I think a lot of us in the UK know how lucky we are to have the NHS, but do we really know just how lucky?
Over the past couple of years I have made friends in the United States and because my health hasn't been at its best recently the topic of healthcare and medical costs comes up a lot in conversation. I knew that the US had it hard where medical costs and insurance were concerned but I never knew just how bad it was. I knew that we had a great health service in the UK but I never appreciated just how good we have it.
I stand in a UK pharmacy waiting for medication and I often hear other members of the public comment on how expensive prescription charges are these days - £8.20 per item. Yes when you are short on cash it can be hard especially if you are collecting several items and money is short but read on and hopefully you will never moan again...
A UK doctors surgery can be packed to the rafters, it can be hard to get an appointment and then you are pretty much guaranteed a long wait in the waiting room as they very rarely run on time. This isn't because doctors and nurses are lazy, quite the opposite, they have just had to give someone a diagnosis they did not want, they needed longer than ten minutes to do a proper examination or to talk to someone who is suffering from mental illness. They needed to fit four emergency appointments into their already busy schedule, they had to make several callbacks to patients to assess if they needed to be seen and yet people still moan that they have to wait. Wait for a service that is free at point of contact.
The same with A&E, there is a nurse that triage each case to see how much of a priority they are. You will get seen but there could be a wait. The wait is down to someone else who is in a pretty desperate situation, dead or dying, yes you may have a broken foot - it hurts a lot, but are you dead or dying? If the answer is no then that is why you may have a wait.
Consultants, operations, you have to wait, it you are urgent they will push you to the top of the list.
OK so the NHS isn't free, it is funded through our tax system so effectively anyone that is paying or has paid tax is contributing, this is still much better than having to pay for insurance to be able to afford medical care or worse not being able to afford insurance and therefore having to go with treatment.
So why do we moan? Our services our stretched, our medical teams over worked and yet we still put unnecessary pressure and criticism on our system. We have it good, really good.
I have a friend in the US who can no longer afford medical insurance. He needs a hernia op and is often in tremendous pain, however even if he had insurance the operation he needs would cost him $3000, without insurance the cheapest he has found is $12000, so what does he do? He lives with the pain everyday.
I have another friend who has recently retired in the US, her medical insurance has jumped $300 to a total of $900 a month. Who on earth can afford that? and yet you can't afford not to have it.
Obarmacare is a step in the right direction for the US, it isn't perfect yet but thank goodness someone is trying to change things over there.
Here we are moaning over waiting times and a £8.20 prescription fee, we really need to cherish how lucky we are. Help the NHS by not abusing the system, if you need it then use it and never feel guilty about that, it's what it is there for.
Please praise those that take care of us, please fight when politician's want to privatize, please remember not to give the hard working staff grief for working their asses off and be ever so grateful that when we are sick we get the care we need, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.