Bud­get strains push U.K. wait­ing times

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS -

Some­times it helps to be a sheep farmer. David Evans, a 69-year-old in south­west Eng­land, found an agri­cul­ture-cen­tric an­swer to his health­care dilemma.

Dur­ing a nearly year­long wait for surgery to re­pair a her­nia—a wait that should have been no longer than 18 weeks, ac­cord­ing to guide­lines for the U.K.’S National Health Ser­vice—evans be­came so alarmed by the long wait that he used an ul­tra­sound ma­chine de­signed for preg­nant sheep on him­self, to make sure he wasn’t get­ting worse, ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press. “I was in quite a lot of pain,” Evans said of his or­deal in Corn­wall. “It re­ally re­stricted what I could do around the farm since I couldn’t lift any­thing heavy.”

Waits for care in the U.K. are get­ting longer, as the govern­ment is look­ing to trim about $31 bil­lion in health­care spend­ing from its bud­get by 2015.

In Jan­uary, the govern­ment in­tro­duced a new health bill that many fear will bring even more dra­co­nian cuts and com­pe­ti­tion from pri­vate providers. The bill, now in the process of be­ing adopted, will ax more than 20,000 health jobs in the next two years and shut an undis­closed num­ber of hos­pi­tals, pos­si­bly in­clud­ing the iconic St. Mary’s in Lon­don, where Alexan­der Flem­ing dis­cov­ered peni­cillin. And doc­tors and nurses are in re­volt.

If things don’t im­prove, Out­liers won­ders if oth­ers will be in­spired by Evans and per­haps sneak off to a vet­eri­nar­ian for a con­sult.

GETTY IM­AGES

“Hey, that ul­tra­sound ma­chine is for me!”

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