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Wednesday, 5 November 2008

America and the NHS

No the two things aren't linked it's just the two news items which are hitting the headlines at the moment.

It is an historic day for America and probably for the world. Barack Obama's success in the presidential elections must mark a turning point in American politics. On the other hand you could say that if America is an egalitarian country - as it is always trying to say it is - then the colour and origins or even the sex of the president are irrelevant. It is certainly a triumph for America's version of democracy.

The NHS - the co-payments issue. I do have mixed feelings about this. Yes it seems immoral people should be penalised by having to pay for drugs the NHS cannot afford to fund. I do not think we are creating a two tier system as we already have that in the sense of private health insurance. Also people have always had the option to pay for private treatment if they wish and can afford it. Why not have the best of both worlds?

What does worry me is that drug research, because there are almost always vested interests involved, is not always reported fairly and accurately - see the book Bad Science mentioned in yesterday's post. Patients, when seriously ill, may not have enough information to make an informed choice about which drug is best for them because drug companies are in the business of selling drugs and making a profit. They could end up paying a fortune for something which may not prolong their lives as much as they have been told it will. It must be difficult to make a rational decision in such circumstances.

On the same theme, I have yet to read a story where someone has been denied a drug by the NHS which will actually provide a cure for their condition. Which is food for thought.

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