For all its virtues, England’s National Health Service (NHS) is far from perfect. After paying £600 for the privilege of accessing the publicly funded healthcare system for the next three years, I have been waiting to see a specialist for about five months since being referred by a GP. Since mine is not a medical emergency, appointments have been moved out by a month on more than one occasion. My experience is not unique (waiting times for non-urgent treatments can be up to 18 weeks), but it provides a small insight into the challenge of providing universal healthcare. A challenge that is deepening in the face of an ageing population increasingly afflicted by costly diseases of lifestyle such as diabetes and heart disease. For all its achievements in improving life expectancy and infant mortality since it was established in 1948, the NHS lags behind many other European countries in key health outcomes, such as child health and cancer survival. Yet, despite poor health outcomes and s...

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