Holly Reeves has a medical condition where she struggles to swallow food, so doctors fitted the five-year old from Devon with a feeding tube.
But Holly has asthma and if she has a serious coughing episode the tube falls out – leading to her “starving to the point of collapse” with “repeated visits to hospitals,” her mother Amy Thomas told CNN.
The alternative is to have a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG), a flexible feeding tube which is fitted into the stomach – but her family say they were told by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) that the wait could be up to two years.
“If we had to wait another two years on an NHS waiting list – Holly might not have made it,” Thomas told CNN. So, her family decided to pursue private medical treatment instead and have exceeded their £5,000 target through crowdfunding website JustGiving.
Holly will now have the potentially life-saving operation next month.
A spokesperson for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The NHS across the country is currently facing long waiting lists in many different specialties, and we are sorry that people in our care are waiting longer for certain procedures or treatments than we would like.”
And Holly is not alone, as an increasing amount of charitable donations online are paying for private medical care.
Figures obtained by CNN from JustGiving reveal that £52.1 million (about $64.7 million) was raised through its website for private healthcare in the UK over the past three years – £11.7 million more than in the preceding three years.
In the United States, people are no stranger to using charitable donations to pay for healthcare.
Unlike the universal, free-at-the-point-of-delivery healthcare provided through the NHS in the UK, the US system works off an insurance model. The standard of care is inextricably tied to your job status, leaving many unemployed and uninsured having to rely on charitable donations to pay for healthcare – or go without.
In the UK, most individuals do not have health insurance, according to Statista’s Consumer Insights. Instead, Brits use NHS services, which are paid for through general taxation and National Insurance contributions. The system is premised on the idea that everybody is entitled to equal and free access to healthcare – regardless of their income.
But following years of government austerity and with an aging population placing increasing