British officials acknowledge that their system has been struggling to cope and faces a 15 billion pound ($24 billion) deficit. Hospitals are often overcrowded, dirty and understaffed, which means some patients do not get the care they are promised.
UPDATE: I deeply resent the Americans sneering at our health service - but perhaps that's because the truth hurts:
Overall the outcome for cancer patients is better in America than in this country. So, too, it is for victims of heart attacks, though the difference is less marked.
If you are suspicious of comparative statistics, consult any American who has encountered the NHS. Often they cannot believe what has happened to them - the squalor, and looming threat of MRSA; the long waiting lists, and especially the official target that patients in 'accident and emergency' should be expected to wait for no more than four - four! - hours; the sense exuded by some medical staff that they are doing you a favour by taking down your personal details.
Most Americans, let's face it, are used to much higher standards of healthcare than we enjoy, even after the doubling of the NHS budget under New Labour. Of course, the U.S. is a somewhat richer country, but I doubt its superior health service can be mainly attributed to this advantage.
Americans should beware of any proposals that might threaten their standards, though President Obama is right to want to extend them to the poor.