What the NHS can learn from the American way
There are quite a few letters in the Mercury criticising the idea that the NHS could learn anything from the American health system.
A contributor wrote that every drink, snack, meal, pill, bandage, test and transfusion is itemised and billed in the USA.
That is correct, but this is not solely due to American ruthlessness. It is because their hospitals have to operate at a profit or they will not be able to pay their staff's wages and rises or persuade investors to risk their capital in their support.
The NHS might like to learn from this that it should have an accurate figure for just how much an individual type of patient is going to cost and which costs might be considered less urgent than others.
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One letter ("I can't see what NHS can learn from the US system", Mailbox, February 18) notes that everything in the American health service is driven by the dollar; that you get care second to none but that you have to pay for it.
We and the NHS might learn from this, that if our country wants to have care that is second to none, then we are going to have to pay for it.
Some contributors think we already do, but, actually, we do not. Our Government borrows £1 out of every £4 that it spends.
On a proportionate basis, we do not pay for a quarter of the health service – it's on the never-never.
We spend a great deal more on the NHS because spending spiralled under the last Labour Government, but the return on this "investment" was minimal.
We might like to learn from American hospitals how increased spending can actually result in increased care.
Incidentally, Labour's increased spending happened when the economy was vibrant and taxes on industry's and the banks' profits were plentiful.
That is no longer the case, but this does not seem to affect the happy delusion in our country that wishful thinking will result in a perfect NHS, full employment and the elimination of poverty.
The current plan seems to be to steal from the rich, but that has never worked in the past.
In the past, it has required our own people to start making some serious money so they can pay the taxes to support the health service.
Russ Ball, Leicester.