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Healthcare

Britain's NHS Tribalizes Healthcare

It's adding protections to make sure the "wrong" ideas aren't communicated by patients.

Arnold Ahlert · Feb. 24, 2020

The leading presidential contenders in the Democrat Party all favor eliminating private healthcare insurance by different means, and the machinations they use to get there are about what Democrats are always about: The acquisition and maintenance of power by any means necessary. Equally contemptible? Democrats have long made it clear that anyone who disagrees with any part of their agenda is unworthy of consideration. Those wondering what such a combination would yield in terms of healthcare need wonder no more: Beginning in April, Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) will be able to refuse nonemergency care for “sexist” and “racist” patients.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who believes “no act of violence or abuse is minor,” wrote to all NHS staffers, “Being assaulted or abused is not part of the job. Far too often I hear stories that the people you are trying to help lash out. I’ve seen it for myself in A&Es, on night shifts, and on ambulances.”

To implement his new program, Hancock has reached a joint agreement with police and the Crown Prosecution Service. It will grant the police greater powers to investigate and prosecute cases where NHS staffers are presumably victims of a crime. “All assault and hate crimes against NHS staff must be investigated with care, compassion, diligence and commitment,” he declared.

No sane person would argue that healthcare providers must endure people who threaten them with violence or are actually physically abusive. In fact, staff can currently refuse to treat such people. Yet the additional measures are pure pablum aimed at assuaging progressive sensibilities. As Sky News puts it, the new protections will “extend to any harassment, bullying or discrimination, including homophobic, sexist or racist remarks.”

Defined by whom? Some hypersensitive snowflake indoctrinated to believe “white privilege,” gender “fluidity,” “social justice,” or any other manifestation of the “woke agenda” should be part of the criteria for determining who gets treated and who doesn’t?

Apparently so. While a 2019 survey of 569,000 NHS employees revealed that 15% have experienced physical assault, rising to 34% among ambulance staffers, more than one in four stated they had experienced harassment, bullying, or abuse over the past year. “Racism was the most common form of discrimination, but 2019 also saw the highest levels of reported sexism and intolerance of religion and sexuality,” the Daily Mail reports.

“All colleagues in the NHS deserve to work in a safe, caring and compassionate environment,” Hancock insists. “You deserve a working environment that supports your physical and mental health, and helps you be the very best you can be.”

Again, with a large exception for safety, this is utter nonsense. There is no perfect world where patients, already injured, impaired, and/or stressed enough to seek care, will comport themselves solely in a manner that uplifts the entire consumer-provider relationship and helps the provider to be “the very best you can be.”

As for a compassionate and caring environment, who’s kidding whom? In 2008, British medical ethics expert Baroness Warnock asserted that people suffering from dementia are a burden on the NHS and should be allowed to opt for euthanasia, even if they are not in pain.

Four years later, Professor Patrick Pullicino, a consultant neurologist for East Kent Hospitals and professor of clinical neurosciences at the University of Kent, asserted that the “Liverpool Care Pathway,” which provided palliative care for terminally ill patients, was killing off 130,00 people per year, because they were difficult to manage — or to free up beds for other patients.

In 2017, the NHS decided to single out obese people and smokers. Those with a body mass index over 40 were denied nonemergency surgery unless they lost weight. Smokers had to quit for at least eight weeks and then had to be tested to detect the levels of carbon monoxide in their blood to make sure. Also in 2017, the NHS took away the parental rights of Chris Gard and Connie Yates so their gravely ill son, Charlie, could “die with dignity” rather than receive experimental treatment in America.

Thus, while the latest agreement precipitated by Hancock refers to the possibility that NHS staffers may be abused by people in crisis or with neurological conditions who will ostensibly be handled appropriately, the track record of antipathy toward “certain” types of patients — as in those insufficiently attuned to progressive sensibilities — is impossible to ignore.

The group most likely to offend? “Elderly people make up most of the patients in any health care system,” explains columnist Andrea Widburg. “They are also the people least likely to be ‘woke.’ Without malice, they may use old-fashioned phrases that are now considered offensive when referring to women, homosexuality, or race. They probably don’t even have a vocabulary for ‘non-binary’ people.”

Even more to the point, conditions like early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s engender serious changes in behavior, often manifested as hostility. How will those patients be “appropriately handled”? Columnist Paul Joseph Watson illuminates the arc from the present to a highly dystopian future — one that isn’t solely about lack of treatment for the elderly. “First it was deplatforming people from social media websites, then it was deplatforming people from bank accounts and mortgages.” he writes. “Now it’s deplatforming people from hospital treatment. Literally eliminating people’s right to basic health care because of their political or social opinions.”

Right now, when Americans go to a hospital for nonemergency care, they are usually asked to present proof of insurance and/or another from of identification, such as a driver’s license. Will those politicians who champion a system similar or identical to the NHS ultimately require patients to submit access to their social-media accounts as well?

As columnist Laura Hollis explains, “The new NHS rule is intended to protect health care workers from insults and slurs. But it is easy to see how something similar in the United States could be twisted for political advantage, particularly given the widespread tendency in some quarters to treat every political, policy or cultural disagreement as an expression of hate: racism, sexism, homophobia or other bigotry.”

That would be progressive quarters where “microaggressions,” “triggering,” and “implicit bias” are seen as reasonable ways to determine “improper” behavior.

Yet even Hollis somewhat misses the point. In certain professions, putting up with annoying or tough customers is part of the job, and the notion that anyone could err to the side of hypersensitivity with regard to refusing someone healthcare is absurd. Moreover, unlike Britain, we have a First Amendment that allows for free speech, even if — or especially if — it is offensive.

In reality, the NHS is embracing an exclusionary political agenda sold as compassion. That’s not healthcare. It’s tribalism.

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