Cal Thomas is a blithering know-nothing

Why this gentleman still has a job when he writes such incredibly disjointed nonsense in his syndicated opinion columns is a question of some import as it relates to the level of public discourse in America — I think.

A recent Thomas column is a fine example of the man’s ignorance, or deliberate deceptiveness, as it attacks Britain’s NHS with some rather selective quoting of headlines found in British news media.

For several years, the British media have been full of horror stories about failures in the National Health Service (NHS). “Thousands of Elderly at Risk in Care Crisis” screamed the front-page headline in the Times of London last week. This is nothing new, because a headline in The Daily Telegraph nearly two years ago warned, “Cruel and Neglectful Care of One Million NHS Patients Exposed.” Is anyone listening?

Looks horrible doesn’t it? That socialised health care in Britain is a massive failure, right? Well not quite. The “Thousands at Risk” are patients and residents of England’s largest private care home company which is approaching bankruptcy.

Since the days when Margaret Thatcher lived in #10 Downing Street, the Brits have been trying that whole free-market approach to society’s problems which is so loudly advocated by American ‘conservatives’. One of the actions instigated during the Iron Lady’s time in office was shifting most elder care into corporately-owned nursing homes, because for-profit companies are always run more efficiently than anything a government employee can do (insert eye-roll here). Unfortunately for those who think privatisation will solve problems, a recent report by the Care Quality Commission in Britain found that those elder care homes run by town councils or charitable groups provided superior care to those run by corporations.

CQC also found that the quality of private-sector run care services is generally lower than those run by councils or voluntary organisations. In April 2010, services run directly by councils and those run by voluntary organisations had the highest proportion of services rated good and excellent (91%), however they have a smaller fraction of the market. Whereas privately run services had a significantly smaller proportion of good and excellent ratings (81%) than other sectors, although this was a significant improvement on May 2008.

Another Daily Mail article quoted by Mr Thomas states

Britain has fewer doctors per head of population than most countries in the Western World

but more than the United States.

If one bothers to read it, they will find that the conclusion of the OECD report referenced just might not fit Mr Thomas free-market ideology

The report concludes that the UK would have far better healthcare if it paid its doctors less but employed more of them.

It says the British health system is characterised by the ‘high relative income level of health professionals’ and that efficiency could be improved if contracts were rewritten to give doctors less money.

The “meltdown in the NHS”, when one digs past the headlines and selective quotes of Mr Thomas, appears to be far more the result of privatisation of services and lax regulation than the failings of socialised medicine.

The quid pro quo of privatisation was that private enterprise demonstrate fiscal responsibility. Too often it has failed to do so. Tighter safeguards are needed to protect the public and force the industry to put its house in order.

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