'Safe in Our Hands'
American physicians may not realize that most British specialists and general practitioners (GPs), and their patients, are very fond of the National Health Service (NHS) and regard it as a public property, separate from party politics. They feel this even though the NHS has a true socialist structure—a comprehensive health care industry that is state regulated, monopolistic, free to all consumers at the point of use, and funded from central taxation. Free marketers, however, object to such structures in principle, believing the structures to be an infringement of personal liberty, unresponsive to consumers' needs, and inherently inefficient.Under the current system, the Department of Health allocates (taxpayers') money to the 21 regional health authorities, which in turn fund their constituent district health authorities, which manage the hospitals. Specialists are salaried employees, work in hospital wards and outpatient departments, and are paid by their district health authority.