UK public health system 'gridlocked' by swine flu

For a shuddering preview of what Obamacare will look like when it is fully implemented--which by the way won't occur until its namesake President Barack  Obama (D) is safely out of office--let's look at its role model, the British National Health Service (NHS), which has been around for over 60 years and has ironed out all the kinks.

According to the British paper The Telegraph

The NHS is in "gridlock", with hospitals across the country being forced to declare that they have reached the highest level of emergency because of flu and other winter viruses.

Britain's most senior accident and emergency doctor told The Sunday Telegraph that four weeks of intense pressures had left casualty departments "overwhelmed" with patients.

He said desperately sick people had been left for hours waiting on trolleys, with even those requiring intensive care enduring long delays.

Dozens of NHS units have cancelled surgery and clinics for outpatients. At least 10 major centres issued "black alerts" - the highest emergency warning - meaning they were at breaking point, forcing patients to be sent elsewhere.

Scores of hospital wards closed due to norovirus, the winter vomiting bug, which put more than 1,200 beds out of use in one week as nurses attempted to isolate the disease.

This is because of the flu--something the top heavy system's administrative personnel should have known was going to happen, prepared for but as John Heyworth, president of the College of Emergency Medicine angrily complained

[T]he failure of Government and the NHS to develop sufficient contingency plans, given that a flu outbreak was widely anticipated following the swine flu pandemic in 2009. "My frustration is that so much of this is predictable. This did not come out of the blue and yet the planning is inadequate - as though there is a sense of denial about it. The planning this winter has been far less effective than last year."

Mr Heyworth claimed that casualty units had been hit by a "dramatic surge" in demand not just because of an increase in the number of very sick patients suffering flu complications, but also because less serious cases went to A&E because they could not see a GP at evenings or weekends.

"In many parts of the country out-of-hours services are absolutely inadequate, so what we get is people turning up at A&E simply because they do not know where else to go, or else they delay and only seek help when their condition is serious," said Mr Heyworth. It is not good enough. We are failing the public."

"Failing the public." Yep, that's what often happens with "free, public access" health care. But it does have a bright side--costs are down as the number of deaths from flu has increased, reducing the number of patients in the system. And all without the dreaded death panels. Of course the outcome statistics aren't great but that can be conquered statistically and hey, you can't have everything.

hat tip.