British scientist Stephen Hawking, best known for his work in theoretical physics and author of the bestselling “A Brief History of Time,” is in the middle of a verbal spar with the United Kingdom’s conservative government after making controversial remarks about the state-run National Health Service.
Hawking said the government caused an NH crisis that led towards a profit-oriented take, similar to how the USA’s medical insurance system works, Reuters reports. Writing in The Guardian, likewise accused health minister Jeremy Hunt of picking out scientific evidence in order to justify NHS policies. Hawking was diagnosed with motor neuron disease at the age of 21.
Hunt retorted by calling Hawking out on his accusations, saying they were wrong and that his statements are a “pernicious falsehood.”
The care I have received since being diagnosed with motor neuron disease as a student in 1962 has enabled me to live my life as I want, and to contribute to major advances in our understanding of the universe.
The NHS, founded in 1948, is one of Britain’s most popular milestones in healthcare, as it allows British citizens access to free care from birth until death. However, in recent years, tighter budgets, more expensive and complex treatments, and an aging population have put a strain on the system’s already burdened finances.
A supporter of the Labour Party, Hawking said that while the NHS is “a cornerstone of our society,” political decisions have led to its slow downfall. He wrote, “In the U.S., where they are dominant in the healthcare system, these corporations make enormous profits, healthcare is not universal, and it is hugely more expensive for the outcomes patients receive than in the UK.”
The conflict between business interests that are driven by profit and public opposition against privatization has also become a huge problem for the NHS. Hawking said, “We see the balance of power in the UK is with private healthcare companies, and the direction of change is towards a U.S.-style insurance system.”