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U.K. Nurses Compare the National Health Service to Healthcare in the U.S.


The United States and United Kingdom couldn’t be more dissimilar when it comes to healthcare. The U.S. has a patchwork system that relies heavily on the insurance industry. The federal government subsidizes insurance for seniors and low-income Americans, while the U.K. has a National Health Service that provides healthcare to everyone in the country mostly free of charge, although residents often pay more in taxes compared to the U.S.

So, which system is better? We asked nurses across the pond what they think about the U.S. healthcare system and here’s what they had to say:  

Appalled by the fact that you guys ventilate without sedation and use actual full restraints. Where I’m from that’s considered assault and torture and the restraint is considered assault.


I’m an NHS nurse of 25 years. The amazing thing about the NHS, which I am fiercely proud of, is that we will fix you. It doesn’t matter what you earn, where you live or how old you are, we will fix you. That’s why I love the NHS. ❤️?❤️


What I dislike about U.S. Healthcare is that they ask you if you have insurance before they treat you!! It’s insane! It’s all about the money, there’s no more compassion for your fellow man.


The plot from Breaking Bad couldn’t work in the U.K. Patients with diabetes don’t have to ration insulin and no one has their house repossessed for medical bills. There’s nothing funny about the U.S. healthcare industry. Patients, not profit, should be the first and only concern.

None of it is the fault of the nursing staff there, but why more folks in the U.S. don’t campaign for universal coverage is beyond me.


Privatization scares me! I’m delighted to be employed by the people and know that the care I provide is free at the point of need! I am so proud of our NHS. ???? I’m in Scotland so I know I get paid better than my counterparts elsewhere in the U.K. It’s not perfect but it’s better than rich people making money from peoples’ need for healthcare. That doesn’t sit well with me AT ALL.


Healthcare in the U.K. is not the same in each country. Scotland (where I live) has its own National Health Service funded differently and we also have free care for the elderly unlike other parts of the U.K. We do have bare below elbows: no watches/jewelry/nail polish etc. in acute areas. I’ve spent some time working in the Texas Medical Centre and with a couple of your OPOs and I think we have more in common operationally than differences. However, the finance side of it just doesn’t exist in our NHS, which we are thankful for.


I work at a major hospital in Baton Rouge, LA. Staffing is at a bare minimum and yet the insurance companies are still demanding the best quality care… Patient surveys are driving insurance costs up. The insurance companies drive their rates up if their patients aren’t satisfied. Us nurses are losing the battle. Sad situation for all.


I worked hard to get my U.S. license, but it was worth it as I feel I needed to have that knowledge to care for my patients (if I were to go in the U.S.). The exam was reasonable as a good test of knowledge and reasoning. If I am to compare it with OSCE- here in the U.K., we basically memorize nursing skills step by step. It was far more stressful. NCLEX is not a good basis for judging nursing skills.


I’ve never needed to use healthcare services of any kind when I visited the U.S. and I’m glad I didn’t. While I don’t know the intricacies of the U.S. healthcare system. One thing I do know is that it’s profit-orientated stance is crippling the general public. In what realm do people see it as better or ‘more than’ to face bankruptcy for being treated?

My mum went on a West Coast tour a year or so ago and she was told by a number of locals that ‘if it’s free, it’s not worth receiving’ when discussing the NHS… Can you imagine? As for the Nurses of the U.S., I’ve never met one, but I imagine they are the backbone of all hospitals in the U.S., much like nurses are often the backbone of hospitals in the U.K. Of course, there aren’t functioning hospitals without all of the roles involved in patient care, but I imagine for many, a nurse is the first and last point of contact.


In America if you don’t have money, you have no/poor healthcare.


The U.S. is still a long way away from having universal healthcare even though the U.K. model has its benefits. Thanks to everyone who shared their views and opinions on social media.

These responses have been edited for length and clarity. 

Steven Briggs
Steven Briggs is a healthcare writer for Scrubs Magazine, hailing from Brooklyn, NY. With both of his parents working in the healthcare industry, Steven writes about the various issues and concerns facing the industry today.

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