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Paging Michael Moore: Brits flee socialized healthcare

By Michelle Malkin  •  October 29, 2007 11:47 AM

Oh, what lovely conditions we have to look forward to should Hillary Clinton and Michael Moore get their way:

Record numbers of Britons are travelling abroad for medical treatment to escape the NHS – with 70,000 patients expected to fly out this year.

And by the end of the decade 200,000 “health tourists” will fly as far as Malaysa and South Africa for major surgery to avoid long waiting lists and the rising threat of superbugs, according to a new report.

The first survey of Britons opting for treatment overseas shows that fears of hospital infections and frustration of often waiting months for operations are fuelling the increasing trend.

Patients needing major heart surgery, hip operations and cataracts are using the internet to book operations to be carried out thousands of miles away.

India is the most popular destination for surgery, followed by Hungary, Turkey, Germany, Malaysia, Poland and Spain. But dozens more countries are attracting health tourists.

Research by the Treatment Abroad website shows that Britons have travelled to 112 foreign hospitals, based in 48 countries, to find safe, affordable treatment.

Almost all of those who had received treatment abroad said they would do the same again, with patients pointing out that some hospitals in India had screening policies for the superbug MRSA that have yet to be introduced in this country.

Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, said the figures were a “terrible indictment” of government policies that were undermining the efforts of NHS staff to provide quality services.

Those who know the system best give Moore a reality check:

Sicko, like all Moore’s films, is about an important and emotive subject – healthcare. He contrasts the harsh and exclusive system in the US with the European ideal of universal socialised medicine, equal and free for all, and tries to demonstrate that one is wrong and the other is right. So far, so good; there are cases to be made.

Unfortunately Sicko is a dishonest film. That is not only my opinion. It is the opinion of Professor Lord Robert Winston, the consultant and advocate of the NHS. When asked on BBC Radio 4 whether he recognised the NHS as portrayed in this film, Winston replied: “No, I didn’t. Most of it was filmed at my hospital [the Hammersmith in west London], which is a very good hospital but doesn’t represent what the NHS is like.”

I didn’t recognise it either, from years of visiting NHS hospitals. Moore painted a rose-tinted vision of spotless wards, impeccable treatment, happy patients who laugh away any suggestion of waiting in casualty, and a glamorous young GP who combines his devotion to his patients with a salary of £100,000, a house worth £1m and two cars. All this, and for free.

This, along with an even rosier portrait of the French welfare system, is what Moore says the state can and should provide. You would never guess from Sicko that the NHS is in deep trouble, mired in scandal and incompetence, despite the injection of billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

While there are good doctors and nurses and treatments in the NHS, there is so much that is inadequate or bad that it is dishonest to represent it as the envy of the world and a perfect blueprint for national healthcare. It isn’t.

Not that the filthy reality is going to get in the way of Michael Moore’s self-delusions. Look.

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