There’s a debate in the USA over Obama’s health care proposals. One of the apparently more right-wing organs, the Investor’s Business Daily, ran an editorial with the classic opinion:

“People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K. where the National Health Service would say the quality of life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.”

This is the same Professor Hawking who receives treatment from the same Addenbrooke’s Hospital as I, and has done for his 67 years, 7 months and 5 days of life thus far? Someone should have told the NHS! It just goes to prove how incompetant they are, forgetting to not give him treatment like that.

Many people pointed out the stupidity of this example to the IBD, who then put out a new editoral.

They admit it was a dumb example, and then add new crap that can be summarised as “The 3 Myths” :

Myth #1 – “Hawking is a renowned theoretical physicist, university professor and best-selling author. It is doubtful any National Health Service bureaucrat would cut him off.”

The NHS has many issues, and I do believe that being elderly isn’t at all a good thing when dealing with them, but the idea that their doctors and nurses make a judgement on your social value before giving treatment is just plain evil lies. I was fast-tracked from a GP’s surgery to an Oncology specialist to a chemo/radio treatment program before even one NHS bureaucrat got to look at my file and assess my worth (which is just as well, eh?).

Myth #2“The mortality rate for colorectal cancer among British men and women is about 40% higher than in America”.

So, all the less well-off people who don’t have medical insurance and who die from cancer effectively undiagnosed are included in that, yes? Also, given that the overall  five-year  relative  survival  of  colorectal  cancer  patients  in England is 50.7%, that would imply that it is greater than 90% survival in the USA. Hardly worth being concerned about if it only kills 10% then, is it?

Myth #3 – They quote Daniel Hannan, a member of the European Parliament from southeast England, that “the NHS is the biggest employer in the world after the Red Army in China and the Indian National Railways. Most of those 1.4 million people are administrators, (and) managers outnumber the doctors and nurses”. Daniel Hannan is a member of the Conservative Party.

Really, Daniel?

It isn’t hard to get the NHS employee statistics.

The NHS employs 1.368 million people. Over half (51.24%) are clinical staff (doctors, nurses, scientists, paramedics). Just over a quarter (25.94%) are support people (receptionists, etc) directly supporting the clinical staff. The people working in Infrastructure accounts for 16%,. When you exclude HR, Finance, property maintenance etc and focus just on NHS managers (the “bureaucrats” as seen by Daniel Hannan), the number is 39,913 – that’s just under 3%.

My cancer caught me when I am no longer in the employment of a large corporation with health insurance and private medical cover. It caught me instead when I was starting to build a small business from scratch – where even paying the minimum statutory sick pay is an issue. Without the NHS, I would be in a very miserable situation indeed.

Was (Not Was) – Tell Me That I’m Dreaming (1981)