Ronni Bennett from Time Goes By has asked bloggers from both within and without the Unites States of America to take part in a discussion on how healthy we find our Health Service, and link to her Health Debate on 20th August 2009.
I am Irish. Born in the Republic of Ireland where it was necessary to pay up front for all things medical. In fact at the moment, from all the rumbles I hear, the Irish Health Service is in rather a mess.
I moved to Northern Ireland (UK) when I married 32 years ago. I came under the umbrella of the National Health Service (NHS) at that time. In the years up until retirement age I had reason to avail of the NHS.
There was the anti and post natal care surrounding and including the birth of my daughter Elly, 31 years ago. The Gynaecologist saw me himself, each month and asked to be called to deliver the baby. He returned later in the day especially to see Jack. There was no problem or reason for concern; he was just very pleased for us.
In later years I also had reason to have five other surgical procedures that required general anaesthetics, all but two involved more than overnight stays. The only items I paid for in all those years were prescription outpatient medications.
Children in full-time education and senior citizens were exempt from those prescription charges and both had free eye tests. They did need to pay for any spectacles needed (lens and frames). Elly needed surgery on her eyes as a youngster, with follow up appointments for a couple of years, and again there was no charge.
Anyone with glaucoma, no matter what age has free eye tests as do their parents, siblings and children. Dental services are different and you will find more information here
I nursed my husband through Cancer over six years; all but nine weeks were at home. The services came to us. A hospital bed and many items were provided to aid me in looking after him. I suppose with hind-sight I could have made more noise and demanded more help. It was my wish to look after him myself and kept going as long as I could. All medications were provided and on one particular difficult day alone, I had three Doctors call to our home.
There were difficult days, but doctors are human and their time is limited. They got tired just as I did. Occasionally we had cross words, but they were few and we each understood the frustrations that caused them.
Now at 62, I have been considered a senior citizen for two years. 65 is the age for men, though the gap will be closed gradually over the next few years until the ladies are at the same level of 65 years of age. A glance at the past two years in my life will give a picture of how I found things with the NHS since retirement.
I have an on-going heart condition and am on constant medication, none of which I now pay for. I am called annually for Cardiac review & flu vaccines, while smear tests and mammograms are automatic at regular intervals of a couple of years. Eye tests are free, but I pay for the eye X-rays & glasses.
At present I am on the list for hip replacement. The Orthopaedic surgeon requested a full Cardiac report so I had all the tests including Angiography. Last week I went for the Pre-op assessment (3 hours) where I met six members of the team all with different responsibilities in the care of an in-patient. Hopefully in the next ten weeks the new ‘shock absorber’ will be fitted. All this is free gratis and paid for by the taxes of the entire workforce.
Over the years waiting times were very long, sometimes as long as 18 months to 2 years for the surgery I need. That seems to be under revision at the moment and waiting times are a maximum of 13 weeks. A large number of people join BUPA for private health insurance and use it to upgrade & jump the queue. We live in a ‘NOW’ world where nobody is prepared to wait their turn… I sometimes wonder what they do with the time saved!
I hear scare stories of people on trolleys for days on end before they are found a bed… mixed wards with men and women in the same ward/room, but I personally have never had to deal with that sort of thing. I have heard people rant and roar at staff in busy A&E departments, but that is pure ignorance, abusive and disrespectful for fellow human beings. People who are really sick don’t have the energy to waste on being rude.
Modern medicine is both wonderful and cruel, amazing advancements have been made over the years, but we have outlandish expectations for miracle cures. We are all living longer and the way the health service works will have to change. Illnesses such as cancer, once considered fatal, are now becoming chronic. Joints and internal organs can be replaced, but there is no such thing as a free lunch… the price is often with (like me) constant reviews and extra medication all costing the state and our pockets to stretch a very long way. We seem to have forgotten that we must die at some stage. I would like to live for another ten to fifteen years, but please don’t keep me hanging on like a vegetable, for another twenty, thirty or forty years, somebody show mercy, open the door and push me outside the igloo!