Understanding the British Welfare System
In Carolyn’s seminar, various kinds of topics about Britain are brought up for discussion. Today’s topic is the welfare system in Britain. One student asked Carolyn about the merits and demerits of the National Health Service (NHS) in Britain. She answered that“ the NHS is really good insome ways. For example, it is 100% free, meaning that you do not have to pay to see a doctor. However, you often have to wait a long time to receive treatment, owing to the huge public demand on the health service. In some cases, patients have died while waiting for operations. For that reason, people who can afford it sometimes‘ go private or go abroad’. This means they pay extra at a private clinic, or travel to nearby countries, particularly Belgium, to get medical treatment more quickly or more cheaply than they could get, back home”. The subject then switched to the benefits system in Britain. Carolyn showed a scene from a movie adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel‘ Oliver Twist’ and explained, “in the story, the orphan Oliver is sent to a ‘workhouse’ which was a place, provided by the State, for people who could not support themselves and who were usually unemployed, starving and homeless. Workhouses were common in Britain from the middle of the 17th century to the early 20th century, where very poor people had to work and live under very harsh conditions. This film is a good example of what it was like.