Thursday, March 18, 2010

Health Care - England (guest post)

The following was written by a very dear British friend. We *met* online several years ago and hopefully someday we will meet in person. Here is her take on the National Health Service in the UK.

UK Health Care
by Maryam Hart

Whilst no system is perfect I really feel that without the NHS here in the UK many people would be without hope of ever getting treatment. Although there are criticisms that can be fairly and squarely made the greatest thing is that people here have hope that they can visit a doctor no matter how wealthy or poor they may be.
For myself, I was born into a low income family as a sole low weight survivor of a twin birth. If it had not been for the NHS (National Health System) my parents would not have been able to afford to have me sent the fifteen miles to a specialist hospital by ambulance, have me put in an incubator for six weeks and consequently survive. That's just for starters.
Growing up in such a low income family with the NHS meant that I was able to have operations, treatments and medication to overcome health obstacles such as continuous sore throats, hearing checks, ear infections, sight checks, broken bones, kidney problems and inoculations. The latter I did not choose for myself until there was a threatened smallpox epidemic and my parents allowed me to decide.
In adulthood I have been fortunate to have given birth to two children where complications ensued and where I received the required medical intervention for both myself and my babies. I have never had to worry as to whether I could afford to pay for the treatment they both needed throughout their lives. Neither did I have to concern myself with paying for an innovative operation to save my husband's life just after the birth of our first child.
Through the years I have been fortunate to be able to consult my doctor at any time I have felt required to do so. If I wasn't happy with a practice I had the choice to move to another. It is also possible to choose which hospital or specialist one wishes to see when it is deemed necessary for further investigation. One can also choose, if financially able, to get treatment privately. Indeed some companies now give this as an option for employees at reduced rates.
Within the UK we have Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and of course England. Each is able to choose their own methodology within the NHS and in all countries except England the charge for medication is already or soon to be, free. England has far more people than the other countries which perhaps makes it less financially viable to introduce free prescriptions. However for those needing constant medication such as diabetics or thyroid patients there is an exception from charge certificate issued whereby all medication for any reason is free.
In all I am more than grateful to have been given the chance to survive at the very beginning and also to know that there has never been a time when I had to live with any illness or condition because I couldn't afford treatment.


Cherie said...

Deanna - thank you and thanks to your guest blogger for explaining what it's like to actually have socialized medicine. If stories such as hers were shared with more Americans, I think the American health care reform debate might take on a different slant.

Deanna said...

I agree and that's why I wanted to share it with my small readership. I had hoped to have a guest post from a Canadian friend, too. She recently had surgery and was going to try to write something during her recovery period but she has several small children and I suspect she just couldn't get to it.