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Wilkommen to my blog - my name is Karin Purshouse, and I'm a doctor in the UK. If you're looking for ramblings on life as a junior doctor, my attempts to dual-moonlight as a scientist and balancing all that madness with a life, you've come to the right place. I'm currently a doctor/research trainee in oncology after spending a year doing research in the USA. All original content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Friday, 29 June 2012

I love the NHS


Oh yes I do, and if you're British, I hope you do too!

Yesterday, the Supreme Court in America voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act.  It may not be a national health service as we know it, but in passing it, the USA goes one step closer to making sure everyone will be able to access medical care.  
Now, if any Americans read this blog, it remains a mystery to most people I have spoken to in the UK as to why one would oppose this law.  44 million Americans don't have health insurance.  38 million additional people have inadequate health insurance.  That equates to around one third of American citizens potentially being unable to access healthcare.  The USA is probably the richest country in the world, but the life expectancy is 50th in the world.  And yet 31% of Americans believe they will be harmed by the Affordable Care Act?

National Health Care does not equate to communism.  It doesn't mean you can't still pay for a private provider if you have the money. It means you're saying that it matters to you that everybody can go to the doctor if they need to.  Of particular concern to me is the effect on people with chronic diseases - and with the ageing population, it is vital that healthcare systems are in place to support people through lengthier, more complex disease trajectories.

I read on CBS that the fundamental opposition is that people want a better economy more than they want a better health care system.  This is the ultimate mystery to me - better healthcare, healthier workforce, healthier economy (as evidenced by a 2006 study by McKee and colleagues).  But surely this is a question of social responsibility, believing that your neighbour deserves the same care as you'd hope to get, regardless of the size of his pay cheque.

At BMA conference
I'm not trying to put together a thorough and detailed argument, but at the end of the day, the NHS is an amazing organisation and one that we must defend.  It's not perfect, of course (that's for another time).  But the point is, as a doctor, I know I'll be able to care for anyone who needs care, and as a person, I know that my friends, family and indeed anyone can be assured of treatment regardless of their healthcare ailment.  We have our own battle in the UK with the Health and Social Care Act - and that's to prevent us going to the very system that Obama's trying to change.  

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