Our transatlantic cousins and their pious preening over compassionate, nationalized health care are letting their slip show just a little. The British National Health System was supposed to cover everybody. It doesn’t. It was supposed to be a more efficient allocation of resources. It isn’t. It was supposed to avoid the moral evils of a dreaded “two-tier” system, which of course has been in place for decades for those with the ready cash.
Family docs in these select areas are signing on to a concierge system that sells better service for – TAH DAH! – extra money. The fee covers an annual physical, some labs, and maybe even house calls. And like some DPC docs I could name, there are family discounts. The hiring corporation limits each doc’s panel, and patients will have their physician’s email and cell number.
There are plenty of fairness police who think NHS doctors should not be allowed to do anything but government medicine and Concierge Choice is rightly wary of the government hammer: “The GP will still be spending 90 per cent of their time on NHS work. We want to work in a complementary way with the NHS. We will be recommending that patients remain registered with their NHS GP,” says founder Dr. Mark Sweeney. And he is selling this as a service that will help more complicated patients with more chronic problems, a relief to the harried resources of the NHS that allow about 10 minutes per visit.
I think this is a great development, and pretty funny. The nationalized care that we are hurtling toward just doesn’t work, and will end up in a lot of very expensive, widespread dissatisfaction. The worsening shortages that are daily headlines with the NHS, and the significantly increased disinterest among British physicians in being simultaneously worked to death and impoverished are encouraging some to find an out. This has a lot of DPC earmarks, but of course the U.K. doctors are on a much tighter leash, and the pushback in the event of a successful outing is likely to be much more harsh. Maybe there will be a race toward DPC on both sides of the pond. More likely, there will be international cooperation towards discouraging private contracting as a way to keep government systems solvent and “fair.” Certainly, this “problem” will worsen as more patients see how great free health care really is.