Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Health Care Stories: Rochester, Kent, UK

Recently, conservative critics of health care reform stated that Stephen Hawking would've been killed under the British health care system. Of course, the world-famous theoretical physicist is British, lives in Britain, and is alive and well. So are Amanda and her family, and she is here to tell you her story about the British National Health Service.

I'm English and live in the UK. A few years ago my brother-in-law had a brain hemorrhage at the age of 26. He lived on his own, but luckily enough he managed to drag himself to the telephone and call for an ambulance. They came and got him, and he was taken to the local hospital. Once they had made a correct diagnosis of what had happened to him, he was transported to a neurological hospital some miles away, a hospital which dealt specifically with patients like him.

He had to have an operation to fix the vein in his head that had leaked. They decided to operate through his groin!! It was a much better option than to take the top of his head off. The operation was an amazing success with quick recovery due to the limited intrusion to his body. They put a small piece of platinum in his head and now he is completely better, with the reassurance that he has less chance than anyone else of having a brain hemorrhage now.

This, of course, was all done for nothing. He didn't have to pay a penny. It was all covered by the National Health Service. We have all paid for the NHS, our national health contribution which is taken from our wages weekly, covers it. Our grandparents paid it too, but it's such a small amount from everyone and when emergencies happen we are ALL covered. People on benefits pay it, too. If a homeless person was found lying in the street and someone phoned an ambulance, the ambulance would arrive very quickly and take them to hospital. Money is never involved!

As a family, we've definetely needed the NHS. My youngest daughter has asthma, and, when she was a toddler, she went into hospital a few times to be put on a nebulizer. She was kept overnight on all occasions. My father-in-law had a heart attack and received quick, life-saving treatment.

There is another side to this, however. I was involved in an accident when a car mounted the pavement and ran me, my daughter, and my poor brother-in-law (yes, the one who had had a brain hemorrhage!) over!

We claimed compensation, and the solicitors arranged for us to see different specialists to support our claims. We were seen by everyone privately rather than using the NHS. My daughter was seen by a psychologist in Great Ormond Street Hospital. There were many people waiting to see staff there, but, as we were private, somebody came out and met us and took us past everyone straight into a room where we were seen immediately. I had to see certain medical professionals, and the solicitors booked me appointments with the top people in Harley Street. Again, no waiting around in corridors, instead sitting sipping tea on a leather sofa in a room which was better than any in my own home!


So summing up. Yes, the NHS is fantastic, we all rely upon it and it is not prejudiced, giving treatment to all, the best treatment in most cases. However, if you can afford a private health insurance then you will be treated like royalty!! All countries should have a health care service like we have and I'm very grateful for it.


phd in yogurtry said...

I have heard of the two-tiered system in the UK. This is a good illustration of how that works.

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