Saturday, May 24, 2014

The VA scandal is simply par for the course

I agree with the first and third parts of something Paul Krugman said in 2011 about the VA health system:
And yes, this is “socialized medicine”... But it works — and suggests what it will take to solve the troubles of U.S. health care more broadly.
It is socialized medicine, it doesn't work, and it does suggest what it will take to fix U.S. health care more broadly.

Having lived in the UK for five years and faced the socialist awfulness that is its National Health Service, the recent scandals regarding VA hospitals are very familiar.  Scandals of this sort are an extremely common occurrence in the UK.  Here's a rundown from the BBC of the scandals from 2013 alone:
  • February - The Francis Inquiry into the Stafford Hospital scandal said patients were "betrayed" by a system that put corporate self-interest first. A total of 290 recommendations proposed changes from top to bottom. The government responded by commissioning four new reviews into mortality rates, healthcare assistants, patient safety and complaints.
  • July - A review by NHS medical director Prof Sir Bruce Keogh into the 14 trusts with the highest mortality rates uncovered a host of problems not previously picked up by the official regulator. It led to 11 being placed in special measures.
  • July - The Cavendish Review into healthcare assistants called for mandatory training for the workforce, saying some were being allowed to work after simply watching a DVD.
  • August - A review carried out by Prof Don Berwick, a former adviser to US President Barack Obama, called for patient safety to become a "top priority" in the NHS.
  • October - A review led by Labour MP Ann Clywd into complaints said the NHS has a culture of "delay and denial".
  • November - In response to the Francis Inquiry - and the subsequent reviews - ministers published a blueprint for a "profound transformation", including the introduction of safe staffing levels and new standards for healthcare assistants.