I wasn’t planning on watching the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics but I decided to check in on them as the Red Sox were being pummeled by the Yankees.
When I flipped the channel, I saw Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle’s tribute to Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). I wasn’t so astonished about the spectacle as I was by Matt Lauer’s reaction to it. Lauer basically said to the effect if Britain can provide healthcare for everyone then why are we even having a debate about it in America?
Well, the NHS isn’t all sick children and their doctors dancing about their hospital beds. In 2009, a 16-year old boy died of thirst when NHS staff wouldn’t give him a glass of water. Admittedly that is an exceptional example but given the circumstances the NHS isn’t worth dancing over. Boyle’s choreography didn’t include the fact that hospitals are short staffed on weekends (which is when hospitals are normally at their busiest) not to mention the spectacle of patients waiting to see the doctor. Waiting times to receive care have been increasing. Indeed, a NHS board in Scotland is under fire for manipulating waiting list data.
So yes Matt Lauer. Americans ought to have a robust debate about the kind of health care system we want. If Lauer thinks America should adopt British health care then he should be careful for what he wishes because he might get it.
With that said, it should be noted that for all the socialist programmes Margaret Thatcher dismantled, she left the NHS alone. The NHS is not without its virtues and indeed I received treatment from an NHS doctor shortly I arrived in Britain as a student intern in 1995 and my experience was a good one. If you want to read a fair and balanced comparison between the American and British health care systems then read what Fox Business Channel anchor David Asman wrote back in 2005 after his wife suffered a severe stroke while vacationing in Britain.