I lived in Holland for more than 20 years and found that the insurance schemes there resulted in efficiency and fairness. There is not the gulf between public and private medicine that exists here and private insurance does not buy the ability to jump queues. Waiting lists are, in any case, much shorter. Of course, those able to afford it pay more than they would in the NHS.
Last year I tried to interest both Labour and the Conservatives in adopting a similar system. David Blunkett, then health spokesman for Labour, sent me thoughtful replies but was finally unable to contemplate anything other than a uniform system: "I cannot countenance any service which develops a two- or even three-tier access to the system," he wrote. Virginia Bottomley's department replied that "... there would be considerable opposition to the introduction ... of the need to take out medical insurance if one's income rose above a certain level".
A solution is staring at us from across the North Sea but entrenched attitudes prevent us from taking it.
G F Steele
Ipswich, SuffolkReuse content