In Canada, Britain and Europe, government health care often means long waiting lines and rationed treatment and care.
Here’s today’s example:
by Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor
Patients face a significant increase in waiting times for operations as ‘insane’ European rules mean doctors’ hours are cut so much medics will not be able to cope, surgeons have warned.
The key pledge of Labour’s NHS reform has been to reduce waiting lists and now the majority of patients are treated within the target of 18 weeks from seeing their GP.
However this will be reversed as junior doctors will be limited to working a 48-hour week, from their current 56 hours, it is claimed.
The extension of the European Working Time Directive will effectively result in the loss of thousands of doctor shifts, John Black, President of the Royal College of Surgeons said.
And the Government fears there will be a lack of locum doctors available to step in and help fill the gaps, following changes in doctors’ recruitment.
It means patients will have to wait months for routine operations as surgeons prioritise emergencies rather than scheduled cases.
The Royal College of Surgeons wants trainee surgeons on a 65-hour working week in order to produce safe, properly trained doctors and cover the workload required by hospitals.
Mr Black said: “If the 48 hour limit is enforced, surgeons will have to make a hard choice between caring for emergency cases and dealing with elective cases as there will not be the time available to do both. Surgeons will put patient safety first and focus on looking after emergency patients.
“All the progress on reducing waiting lists will go out of the window. Forty eight hours for surgeons is currently insane if we want maintain surgery in the NHS.”
Doctors have calculated an average hospital trust outside London will lose the equivalent of three trainee surgeons and other specialities such as paediatrics, trauma, and intensive care are likely to be similarly affected.
Smaller surgical units may have to shut or be merged in order to comply with the Directive, Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley warned.
It is understood the Department of Health is considering increasing the length of time it takes to qualify as a consultant surgeon from seven years to eight or nine so doctors can gain enough experience and also comply with the limited working week.
Vanessa Bourne of the Patients Association said: “How can this be happening in a supposedly patient-centred service? Access to high quality safe care is the paramount requisite for patient and clinician alike and this muddle needs sorting out before patients are put at risk.”
The new regulations come into force on August 1 at the same time hospital trusts are trying to cope with organising the new intake of junior doctors.
The shake-up of doctors’ training, which caused a fiasco in 2007, means more trainees are in longer-term posts so there are now fewer candidates looking for locum posts and temporary jobs.
In the U.S., Some 50,000 applicants to nursing schools were turned away last year because there weren’t enough spots, even as a nursing shortage leaves hundreds of thousands of jobs vacant and threatens the quality of care in hospitals and nursing homes, Reuters reports. The federal stimulus package contains some $500 million to address health staffing shortages, of which about $100 million will go to address the nursing shortfall.