Britain’s NHS was once idolized. Now its worst-ever crisis is fueling a boom in private health care

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from CNN,

Tens of thousands of nurses and nearly 12,000 ambulance workers went on strike Monday over pay and working conditions in the biggest walkout in the 75-year history of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).

Escalating industrial action comes after years of falling wages, stretched budgets and staff shortages that have left the NHS in a state of crisis, with waiting times for treatment at a record high. At the same time, an aging population needs its services more than ever.

That unhappy mix is fueling a boom in demand for private health care from a much broader swathe of the UK population than ever before — a fundamental shift for a nation with one of the world’s best-known universal health systems.

“Our providers are telling us that people are going private, many for the first time, and the key factor driving that is the challenge in accessing NHS care,” said David Furness, policy director at the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, an industry body for private healthcare companies.

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