NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

British Hospitals are Dirty

December 8, 2003

Hospitals everywhere tend to be dirty. But in Britain they can be lethal.

Critics place the blame on Britain's socialized health care system. Like all other collectivist systems, it lacks the proper incentives necessary to ensure quality performance. National Health System (NHS) hospitals fail to meet even the most basic hygiene and sanitations standards, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

For instance:

  • According to media sources, 5,000 patients per year die of hospital-acquired infections.
  • An additional 15,000 deaths per year are directly related to complications from infections.
  • Many more patients merely get sick.

A common practice among private hospitals is to close down twice a year for a deep cleaning and a subsequent test for bacteria. This practice is never done in the NHS hospitals. Also, for other reasons, patients having major surgery in British hospitals are four times more likely to die than those having it performed in the United States.

Critics point out that dirty hospitals aren't the only preventable causes of death in British hospitals. Fewer specialists and long waiting lists may also contribute to high death rates. Medical care in Britain, at best, appears to be stagnant and in many cases declining. This should give pause to those interested in adapting a socialized health for the United States, says IBD. The profit motive in a free market provides incentives for companies to expand medical technology, develop drugs, and for students to seek to become physicians.

Source: Editorial, "Isn't It Obvious," Investors Business Daily, December 8, 2003.


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