Another NHS Story U.S. Media Will Likely Ignore: Widespread Use of Foreign 'Commuter' GPs

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I don't anticipate that those in the UK who are rushing to the defense of their precious National Health Service (NHS) will be bringing up the item that follows any time soon, nor do I expect the U.S. statist heath care cheerleaders to take note of it.

The UK Daily Mail tells us that NHS is importing general practitioners who commute from foreign countries. Wait until you see the reason why, and the effect it has had on patient care.

Here are key paragraphs from the report by Rebecca Cambers:

The huge extent to which the NHS needs foreign doctors to treat patients out of hours is revealed today.

A third of primary care trusts are flying in GPs from as far away as Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Switzerland because of a shortage of doctors in Britain willing to work in the evenings and at weekends.

The stand-ins earn up to £100 an hour, and one trust paid Polish and German doctors a total of £267,000 (about $441,000 -- Ed.) in a year, a Daily Mail investigation has found.

It raises fresh concerns that British patients are being treated by exhausted doctors without a perfect command of English.

.... The figures come months after an investigation was launched into the conduct of a German doctor after two patients died on his first shift in Britain.

.... (A) Nigerian-born doctor (based in Germany) injected 70-year-old kidney patient David Gray with ten times the maximum recommended dose of morphine, and an 86-year-old woman died of a heart attack after Ubani failed to send her to hospital.

The NHS is having to rely on doctors from overseas because a lucrative new contract for British GPs has resulted in more than 90 per cent opting out of responsibility for their patients in the evenings and at weekends.

Despite doing less, their pay has soared by 50 per cent to an average of almost £108,000.

Responsibility for out-of-hours cover has now passed to primary care trusts.

A different Daily Mail piece from August 20 tells us the following:

.... the controversial contract .... saw the pay of practice-owning GPs increase by 50 per cent over four years, to an average of almost £108,000 (about $178,000), even though they are now working seven hours a week less.

Meanwhile the rise for salaried GPs, who work longer hours, has been just 10 per cent to £54,000 on average.

That second Daily Mail piece reports that the salaried GPs want to form a "breakaway union." So in case you didn't know that even doctors who own their own practices are unionized under the NHS, now you do.

Back on point: What in essence happened is that NHS cut a deal with its unionized in-country GPs that was so favorable to the GPS that they stopped doing what they had been doing. Rather than attempt to go back to the docs and try to solve the problem, NHS bureaucrats took the easy way out, spending lots of taxpayer money for expensive, imported temps. In some cases, not surprisingly, they haven't vetted their commuters very well.

Say what you will about our the imperfections of the current health care system in the U.S. -- and yes, there are many -- it's almost inconceivable that it could have produced a widespread bureaucratic screw-up in the provision of primary care such as this. But with a statist health care regime in place, even if run by the allegedly best, brightest, and most noble (which, sadly, would be far from the case under ObamaCare, based on the presence of the likes of Ezekiel Emanuel) botches like the one described here are likely to become a standard feature, as is the case with NHS -- which, as seen here, has a long, long history of wide-ranging problems.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.