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Disillusioned doctor speaks out about for-profit healthcare system that 'bordered on criminal'

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(NaturalNews) A disillusioned British physician has launched a scathing attack on the country's healthcare system, calling it "criminal" and "venal" and claiming that doctors who treat patients privately resemble the "greedy preying on the needy."

Dr. John Dean, a cardiac specialist, called private health care a "con" because doctors seem more interested in making a "fat fee" than providing the best care they can.

Dean, a consultant who has only just recently given up private practice, said some doctors' conduct was so "venal" and corrupt that it "bordered on criminal," Britain's Daily Mail reported.

Further, in an article for the British Medical Journal titled "Private Practice is Unethical - and Doctors Should Give it Up", Dean described how doctors might be inclined to keep their National Health Service (NHS) patients waiting longer so they would be forced to seek private treatment and, in turn, earn them more.

"Largely a con"

"Ask any smoker: the last person they want to be with when lighting up is someone who has just quit. I sense a similar discomfort among some of my colleagues now that I have given up private medical practice. Like a lapsed Catholic shunned by the priesthood, I have become an apostate," he wrote, adding he had "always been ambivalent about private practice."

Dean said "jealousy" existed between many consultants in the NHS over how much they are earning privately. The Daily Mail said that some 40 percent of the 40,000 NHS consultants do at least some private work. Depending on their specialty and how many additional hours they put in, some consultants are able to double their annual salaries, which range between £75,000 and £100,000 (roughly $115,800 t0 $155,000).

The Daily Mail noted further:

The rules in their contract state that they must carry out ten sessions on the NHS a week - each lasting three to four hours - but aside from this they are free to work privately.

But Dr. John Dean, who is based at the Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust, in Devon, said this private work "deprives the NHS of a valuable resource."

Dean further stated that private doctors might be motivated to refer patients for "unnecessary tests and treatments," just so they could earn more.

The British heart specialist also explained how he came to end his own private work: "I could not escape the fact that I was involved in a business where the conduct of some was so venal, it bordered on criminal..."

"Private medicine encourages doctors to make decisions on the basis of profit rather than need," he continued. "Private practice creates a perverse incentive to increase your NHS waiting times - after all, the longer they are, the more private practice will accrue.

"And, let's face it: the whole business is largely a con," Dean wrote. "For most 'ordinary' private patients, though, the main advantage is simply to jump the NHS queue.

"Private hospitals are like five star hotels, but for the most part they are no place to be if you are really sick," he said.

"I don't miss it"

Why did he opt for private practice?

"To begin with, I decided that I needed the money to renovate the house, educate the children, and so on," he wrote. "And I was sure that I could keep the private work separate from my NHS work.

"I saw private patients after hours and slotted in operations in my free time," he continued. "But it became increasingly difficult to keep the lid on the private jar as the contents expanded, and some spillage was inevitable."

He went on to say that not all aspects of private practice were bad. He said he was able to spend more time with his patients, and that through private practice, he was able to meet some good people and develop friendships.

"I don't miss private practice. The release of the burden is liberating," he concludes. "And I find that the time I have gained is much more valuable to me than the money was. Is it a crass hypocrisy, though, for me to sit atop the pile of money I earned and pretend to have the moral high ground? Maybe, but I wish I hadn't done it. Perhaps it would have been easier if I had not been allowed to."





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