The UK is a model for Universal Health Care and Americans should pay attention to their best practices. Promoting consumer choice, patients have the choice of going to a National Health Service (NHS) hospital free of charge or a private hospital where the patient is responsible for the bill.
Recent concerns, however, have surfaced about the NHS-mandated standard of limiting emergency room wait times to 4 hours. This mandate has spawned claims of “patient stacking” where patients would be held in ambulances until they could be treated within the four-hour limit. Of the more than 44,000 (in the past 15 months!) that were detained in an ambulance for over an hour, you can imagine tragic stories including the death of a 16-year old terminally ill cancer patient who waited over an hour to be picked up by an ambulance. Ambulances were available but were being “tied up” waiting to hand patients to the emergency room.
As a side note…Even if patients wanted to pay more for emergency room services, there are no emergency room services provided at the private hospitals.