Ventura Wrong on Health Care Crisis

RECEIVED Mon., Jan. 22, 2007

    Michael Ventura's articles (“Letters @ 3AM”) are always well-written, sometimes thought-provoking, and occasionally well-researched. His latest, “110,000 a Year” [Jan. 19], was none of those.
    Michael's statistics were, indeed, chilling. Unfortunately, the piece came to no useful conclusion (a common failing of Michael's columns). "Both Iraq and our health care crisis are about not looking at ourselves." Huh?
    For me, though, this latest article “lost it” when Michael referenced the British National Health Service. Michael seems to be under the impression that Britain's NHS "like most nationalized systems" attends to prevention. Oh dear.
    As a British national who has lived in the United States for more than two decades and experienced both the British and American health care systems in some depth, I could write at length about the relative merits of our health care systems. To save you space on your letters page, however, let me fill in just some of the appalling gaps in Michael's “knowledge” of the British "health care system":
    The NHS, "like most nationalized systems," sucks most of the public's money into management, consultancy, and waste. The system does next-to-nothing about preventive health care and, in fact, rations medication and treatment because of lack of funds (see first sentence in this paragraph). MRSA (one the health-care killers Michael uses to criticize American health care) is rife in the NHS – as its Victorian-era facilities are poorly cleaned, and its medical staff are not disciplined enough to follow basic rules of hygiene. Patients routinely die in the NHS while enduring eight-month waits for treatment and “medical mistakes” (another of Michael's criticisms of the U.S. system) are so frequent as to be rarely reported.
    Michael, the next time it crosses your mind to say anything about health care systems outside of the United States, please do a little research first – even just by calling me.
John A. Blackley
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