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“Hey, that ultrasound machine is for me!”
“Hey, that ultrasound machine is for me!”
Photo credit: Getty Images

Outliers: Budget strains push U.K. waiting times

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: December 19, 2011 - 12:01 am ET

Sometimes it helps to be a sheep farmer. David Evans, a 69-year-old in southwest England, found an agriculture-centric answer to his healthcare dilemma.

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During a nearly yearlong wait for surgery to repair a hernia—a wait that should have been no longer than 18 weeks, according to guidelines for the U.K.'s National Health Service—Evans became so alarmed by the long wait that he used an ultrasound machine designed for pregnant sheep on himself, to make sure he wasn't getting worse, according to the Associated Press.

“I was in quite a lot of pain,” Evans said of his ordeal in Cornwall. “It really restricted what I could do around the farm since I couldn't lift anything heavy.”

Waits for care in the U.K. are getting longer, as the government is looking to trim about $31 billion in healthcare spending from its budget by 2015.

In January, the government introduced a new health bill that many fear will bring even more draconian cuts and competition from private providers. The bill, now in the process of being adopted, will ax more than 20,000 health jobs in the next two years and shut an undisclosed number of hospitals, possibly including the iconic St. Mary's in London, where Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. And doctors and nurses are in revolt.

If things don't improve, Outliers wonders if others will be inspired by Evans and perhaps sneak off to a veterinarian for a consult.

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