NHS doctor pontificates on Dutch healthcare: shame on him, shame on BBC

At about 14:20 on Thursday 9th June the BBC News channel interviewed an NHS surgeon from Leeds.

The man’s thesis is that ‘a Federal Europe will lead to a Federal Health Service which will be run by private companies’. He said ‘I do not want that the profits from me putting a pace-maker into a patient disappear into the pockets of a private company.’

His concluding statement: ‘Let’s face it, countries like [..] Holland have a Healthcare System – a well-developed Health-service, granted – but it is run & financed by private companies…!’

His implication clearly being that somehow the Dutch healthcare system is inferior to the NHS because of involvement of private companies.

The man is absolutely, utterly, 100% ignorant about healthcare in Holland! It is a total disgrace that the BBC allows airtime to such a charlatan. Other than being factually wrong, the whole contention about the evolvement of the Union and then thereafter the health-services into a federal system is pure speculation. The man should stick to his surgery (which hopefully he executes with more grasp of the details…)

Over the last six years I have simultaneously been Court Appointed Deputy for a lady with dementia in Sussex as well as managing the care and affairs of a lady with dementia in The Hague, Netherlands. I know both systems very well.

  • The Dutch system is a highly centralized, state-governed (through laws & regulation) system which in its execution can be best described as a joint-venture between the public and private sector.
  • I experienced in Holland completely seamless, highest quality care and co-operation between the care organisation, hospitals & medical staff (non-profit foundations), doctors (part private), insurers (fully private), and the public sector: the state office that sets level of care and the state-office that handles the funds (part paid by the state and part by patients on a means-tested basis). Citizens must take out health-insurance of state-regulated packages. Ultimately, for every citizen who is ill, personal costs are capped and the state funds the care beyond that level for severely ill patients.
  • I have no specific complaints about the UK system for my lady with dementia but my experience was not seamless, more complicated, not part paid-for by the State (cost wholly born by the patient) and ultimately – at the severe stage of illness – much, much more costly for the patient which driven to the extreme would have wiped out her assets.
  • In this particular case, the Dutch system may actually work better than the UK. All around, more importantly, there is absolutely zero evidence that the involvement of private companies is a detriment to the level or cost of care.

Shame on the NHS surgeon who pontificates about the ‘evils’ of systems he knows absolutely nothing about. Shame on the BBC for giving a national platform to a totally uniformed individual.

9th June 2016