UK must not follow US model of healthcare, RCGP warns

The UK must not follow the US model of healthcare as it would risk widening health inequalities, increasing costs and fragmenting care, the RCGP chairwoman has warned.

RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada said her recent study trip to the USA to look at how the ‘biggest market in the world affects the deliver of healthcare’ has made her 'nervous' about the direction of the NHS reforms to increase competition in the NHS. 

She said it also bolstered her view that the NHS is the ‘most remarkable system of healthcare’.

She said: ‘Where as in the past I thought some aspects were quite reasonable, I came away with the view that actually it is not a system at all.

‘It’s a series of providers that aren’t linked to any shape or form, with resources not necessarily going into patient contacts and instead spent on administering this bureaucratic system.’

She warned that moving to a US-style system would lead to a fragmented and more costly system, where accountants, lawyers and actuaries are ‘as common as hospital managers and GPs’.

She said the US system also creates huge health inequalities, where the ‘rich have choice’ but 70 million people have no access to healthcare or are uninsured.

She said: ‘I am convinced the NHS should be improved, but we should always strike to improve what matters cost: continuity of care, co-ordination of services and quality.

‘But if people think that the market will deliver that, I urge them to see what I saw, which is that the market fails.’

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