Another reason to scrap the NHS as UK doctors strike against £53,000 ($82,000) pension deal

Producer oriented health systems always put interests of patients second, but this one takes the biscuit

Can the government beat the unions this time around?
The Commentator
On 31 May 2012 07:00

As is being widely reported across the British media, doctors have voted for strike action in protest at government reforms for pensions that would give a doctor starting out his or her career today £53,000 ($82,000) upon retirement at the age of 65. Should they work longer than that, their pension would be considerably greater.

Many general practitioners in Britain earn in excess of  £100,000 ($155,000) a year, making them some of the best paid employees in the public sector and clearly giving them enormous opportunities to build up a hefty nest egg for their retirement.

The sheer selfishness of the move at a time of austerity for everyone has got even some of the Left-wing press up in arms, though as is usual in British public discourse no-one is getting to the core issue, which is that this is yet another example of what happens when your health care system is run along Soviet lines rather than employing a reasonable mix of the public and private sectors.

For it is precisely the type of health system Britain uses that hands so much power to the producer, as it does in all sectors of the economy where a state monopoly dominates. This is because employees in such institutions know that the consumer has little option of going anywhere else. And when the institution is a hospital or a doctor's surgery and when the consumer is a sick patient, the producer's ability to dictate terms becomes overwhelming.

In the NHS. this has resulted in a highly unionised workforce which can get away with poor standards of service while simultaneously extracting highly lucrative pay deals combined with jobs for life and enviable benefit packages.   

As shown by cancer survival rate comparisons, for example, the British National Health Service is one of the worst health systems in the Western world, and is even being overtaken in some respects by former communist countries of central and eastern Europe which, in most cases, use a public-private insurance model to deliver health care and where doctor's pay rarely exceeds £25,000 ($39,000) a year.

The British government is saying it won't budge in the face of the doctors' intimidation, which is obviously the right course of action and will probably have public support. But even if they beat the unions this time around, the problem will never be fixed until this creaking old rust bucket of a National Health Service is finally abolished and replaced with something better.

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