Ramifications of government-run health care are rearing their ugly head in England.
According to the Times of London, thousands of elderly Brits have gone blind recently because of a National Health Service "cost-cutting drive that relies on them dying before they can qualify for cataract surgery."
What is happening?
Surgery to remove cataracts is one of the most common NHS procedures each year, but new research shows the NHS has "ignored" guidance to end "cataract treatment rationing," the Times reported.
The result is tens of thousands of elderly Britains struggling to see, some even going blind.
According to The Guardian, the Royal National Institute of Blind People has condemned eye surgery rationing because it increases the risk of elderly people falling — often resulting in broken limbs — which is costly to the NHS and British taxpayers.
"Cataracts can have a dramatic impact on someone's ability to lead a full and independent life, potentially stopping them from driving and increasing their chance of serious injury by falling. The Nice guidelines are in place for very good reason and make it clear that cataract surgery is highly cost effective and should not be rationed. It is nonsensical for clinical commissioning groups to deny patients this crucial treatment," Helen Lee, a representative for RNIB, told the Times.
England's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence similarly condemned the rationing in 2017.
The NHS uses "clinical commissioning groups" to determine how to deploy health care resources. More than half of the 195 CCGs now consider surgery to remove cataracts has "limited clinical value."
What did the NHS say?
Julie Wood, chief executive for NHS clinical commissioners, defended care rationing.
"[NICE] guidance is not mandatory and clinical commissioners must have the freedom to make clinically led decisions that are in the best interests of both individual patients and their wider local populations," she told the Times. "The NHS does not have unlimited resources. Ensuring patients get the best possible care against a backdrop of spiralling demands, competing priorities and increasing financial pressures is one of the biggest issues clinical commissioners face."