What do British people think of national health service?
LULU garcia-navarro, host:
This month, President trump sparked outrage in Britain, where he said the country’s national health service had “caused a stir and didn’t work”. British officials responded to polls showing that most britons love the NHS. They just want to improve the money. NPR’s Frayer in London.
Unidentified protector: when they say cut…
Unidentified protector: we say fight back.
LAUREN FRAYER, wired: this is the street protest that President trump is launching. Tens of thousands of britons have been campaigning for more funding for health systems funded by their country, which promises to provide care for all. Mr Trump has accused it of providing very bad non-personal medical care.
Government spending by the national health service has increased since the financial crisis of 2008, but growth has slowed. That means the drugs are being rationed. Thousands of actions have been postponed this winter. Richard Murray, policy director at The King’s Fund, said The wait time for The emergency room had arrived.
RICHARD MURRAY: if the emergency room is really busy, it’s going to let the ambulance queue outside the front door – not very good. And in some cases, the hospital is complete.
FRAYER: but trump’s tweets make many people unhappy. The British health minister responded by pointing out that 28 million people in the United States have not reported. The national health service costs less than half of what americans spend on health care. And the life expectancy here is higher. Ms Murray says the NHS’s defences run across British politics.
MURRAY: you won’t find a major politician on the left – Labour – or the conservative right to talk about the privatisation of the NHS. That would be electoral poison.
FRAYER: the national health service is better than the queen. One mp has said that the NHS is the closest thing Britain has to religion. It dazzled at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics…
(music rock music)
FRAYER:…… As doctors dance around music and hospital beds, arrange for them to see the NHS letters from above.
Unidentified person 1: please welcome Erich McElroy.
FRAYER: Erich McElroy was originally from Seattle. He has been in Britain for nearly two decades, and now his wife, two children and a new puppy live in the south London suburb. He liked to see the doctor telling jokes here for the first time.
ERICH MCELROY: so I went there with the American expectation, you have to pay, you have to put a credit card first, or you have to put a credit card first, or you put an insurance policy first. Then I saw a doctor – gave me some pills. Then he let me go.
FRAYER: you mean, where’s the cash register?
MCELROY: yes. So I went back to the same receptionist. And I’m like, what am I doing now? She said, you’re home. That’s it. I thought, this is great.
FRAYER: British health care is funded through payroll taxes, not at service points. Eric doesn’t have to worry about getting health care through his employer.
MCELROY: yes. This is not spa care, but it CARES.
MCELROY: we don’t know what we’re going to do, you know? Otherwise I would have to find a real job again, which would be terrible. (laughter)
Unidentified man # 2: this new health service will be organized around the country.
FRAYER: the NHS was founded 70 years ago.
ROBERTA BIVINS: the war is just over, you know? The rubble is still smoking.
FRAYER: another American expatriate who has spent decades in the UK, the historian Roberta Bivins said that after the pain of world war ii, the British wanted to provide health care for all. And they’re still very protective today.
BIVINS: people here are very, very uncomfortable and think the company should benefit from the sick. Of course, in the United States, we are more satisfied with the idea that markets will provide services.
FRAYER: comedian Erich says he’s going to change one thing. His comedy routine also had a joke about what happened after he had a small hand here.
MCELROY: after surgery, they gave me the fish pie, is the first thing I said in the routine – it makes me back to the hospital because it was very sick – because, you know, they might give us health care, but the food is still very bad in this country.