How the British National Health Service Works: Coughs, Colds, and Tamiflu

It is my observation — contrary to popular opinion over here — that America does not have a higher proportion of dullards than any other country, just that said dullards grab the microphone with greater passion than do their IQ-challenged European peers.

American thickos are vocal. In Britain they stay at home and watch ITV3.

Witness the terrifying idiocy of the American health care debate. You may know by now that the Brits are seething over the stupid and outrageous (cf. Stephen Hawking) characterisation of the NHS. It’s unfortunate really, as our passionate defence of nationalised healthcare can blind us to its problems, just as the Town Hall wackos with their silly straw men are oblivious to the moral embarrassment that is the American system and the rationing that already exists within it.

Anyway, it’s right to herald a triumph in NHS care, so here it is.

We recently went on vacation with my parents to Wales. My mum fell ill with a cold which she began to worry might be flu and thus H1N1. Despite being away from her home GP, care was easy to find. First, she rang the NHS flu line. Because she is on other medication, they had her speak to a local doctor over the phone. He then prescribed Tamiflu and told her to collect it  — with an authorisation number — at a nearby pharmacy. Job done. Cost to her? Nothing. Time from first call to pills? Less than one hour.

Now, of course there is a cost and it’s called taxation, but then again, given that the NHS spends half as much per person as the American system but gets roughly comparable and sometimes better results, I’m inclined to say that it represents value for money. We could swap anecdotes all day, but in this case (and in a majority of cases since the NHS has received the funding it needs in the last decade or so — kudos to Blair and Brown), the system works and we are proud of it.

So there.



  1. I’m sure no system is perfect but it seems to me that the only ones complaining about the NHS in England or Canada is the USA. Since we are mindless lemmings and tend to follow our leaders we get in line with all the pundits and tend to agree with out facts. I’m not totally in favor of a government health care system (total system) but we should at least learn the truth without the scare tactics. I’ve talked to many citizens that use the NHS and generally they are Ok with it. Anyway it seems we are headed in your direction, so good luck to us.


  2. it’s nice to see that the NHS is finally getting some support. I think the biggest danger to the NHS is the complacency of the populous who have never known life without it.

    In addition to the usual treatment at GP /hospital for all ailments ranging from minor illness to major operations, the NHs is 5 years into a major preventative exercise whereby patients suffering from a range of chronic diseases (including the likes of diabetes, heart disease, strokes, hypertension, respiratory disease) are called in to see a GP every year for a full review of their health and medication. These appointments are offered in addition to the more typical daily appointments GPs provide. The hope is that by teaching patients correct disease management, deterioration of the condition possibly leading to further illness, can be avoided. We rarely hear about this side of the NHS yet it has the potential to have a massive impact on the health of the nation in the future. And all free at point of delivery!


  3. Many Americans are money mongers. And that includes their MDs. It’s all about the almighty buck. In Canada, where health care is “free,” it’s a different story because MDs are essentially civil servants and so they tend to be elitist asses. And they have chips on their shoulders so large they walk with a limp. Why? Because they resent the fact that their American colleagues make way more than they do. And so their form of “compensation” to make up the difference is to satisfy themselves by feeding their almighty egos (as opposed to “almighty bucks”).

    Here in the States MD’s, tend to be a more approachable because they have to compete in the open market — they want to keep their customers…I mean patients happy.

    It will be interesting to see how so-called health care “reform” will change MD attitudes here if if significant changes are made to approach a more “universal” model.


  4. Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands have comprehensive health care with private insurances and private health care providers. Germany has single payer with a private health care system.

    In fact, the American system is more “socialist” than its German counterparts. In America, the elderly are on government medicare. In Germany, the elderly have private health insurance. In America, the poor are on government medicaid. In Germany, the poor have private health insurance. In America, veterans obtain health care from the Veterans Administration. In Germany, veterans have comprehensive private health insurance and can obtain any private health care provider’s services.

    In Germany, entrepreneurs and small businesses pay the same health insurance premiums as everyone else. In America you have to pay a fifteen percent health insurance penalty for being self-employed. In Germany, there is no haggle pricing. In America, you can force up to 96% price reductions if your cartel is big enough.

    After all that, you can still go bankrupt in America even if you have $13,000 a year health insurance.

    What kind of capitalism is that?


  5. When I lived in the UK I found the health care system to be difficult to navigate and non-responsive. In the US I had excellent private insurance and an outstanding, Harvard-educated pediatrician who would see my children on an hour’s notice. In the UK I also had private insurance, but couldn’t see a specialist (i.e. a pediatrician) until the NHS GP provided a referral. I’m sure universal coverage will be a godsend to those who don’t currently have insurance. I’m not convinced it will be great for me. I’m sure I’ll be paying higher taxes to pay for it.

    On the other hand, my current insurance provides worldwide coverage with the exception of the US due to the fact that US medical costs are so high and my company which has no operations in the US does not want to incur the additional premium. When I travel to the US I buy travel insurance in case a member of my family falls into the hospital. If my wife has another child, we will end up paying $20K out of pocket if she gives birth in the US. Since I currently fall into the uninsured, at least as far as the US is concerned, I guess I’m now one of those people for whom universal coverage will be a godsend. Woo-hoo, I’m in favor.


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