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Adventures in the NHS

We got in to Brighton at about 1630 and immediately went to the walk-in clinic near the station. The receptionist warned us that it might be over an hour to wait if I needed to see a GP, and I said that was okay. I filled out one page of paperwork (which didn't ask me anything about my citizenship, etc... though I did put the UK address of Mike's parents on there instead of my home address) and then waited. For maybe twenty minutes until I was called.

I've officially gotten to the scary age where I look at a doctor and think, "Gosh, isn't he kind of young?"

He asked me what was going on, I described the problem to him. He checked my ears and said I didn't seem to have an actual ear infection. Then he checked my throat and said that it was pretty red and irritated on the right side, followed by a little more poking and prodding around my face.

He said he didn't want to prescribe antibiotics because it was just as likely that this was a new stage of the head cold, coupled with residual effects from being on an airplane to just make it worse. He seemed to be ready to fight with me about the antibiotics, but I wasn't about to argue since I generally think antibiotics are overprescribed, and if there wasn't a giant neon flag reading 'infection' hanging off of my right eardrum, then I can see why I wouldn't need them. (And really, pretty much everything he said and did was the British mirror of the last time I saw my own GP for sinus problems.)

So instead he wrote me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory that I could use with painkillers to hopefully ease my throat pain, and a nasal spray that should help the continued drainage that's probably causing the worst of the irritation.

Elapsed time, less than ten minutes.

Cost: Zero

After the nice young doctor showed me how to operate the door to get the hell out of the office (that was kind of embarrassing) Mike and I went to Boots to get the prescription filled. We waited about ten minutes for it and paid a little shy of GBP 15 for the two prescriptions.

And thus, my encounter with the NHS. I probably just got lucky with the time I went in, but every time I've ever done a walk-in in America, I've waited a hell of a lot longer for a consultation with a doctor that often lasted the same amount of time. (Exceptions would be, for example, when I had hives over my entire body and got to go back immediately so they could pump me full of drugs, at which point I lost track of how much time I spent doing anything.) They never asked me about my citizenship or anything like that, even though it's abundantly clear that I'm not British once I've said more than two words. There was no space on the paperwork inquiring how I intended to pay, and that never got brought up.

I'm not going to claim for even a second that this is the average encounter one has with the NHS. However, if the average encounter with the NHS is even in the same galaxy, I will say this: if the NHS is the decay of Western civilization as we know it (that's sure how it got framed during the healthcare kerfuffle), I'd like to sign the US up for a bit of decay too.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Dec. 28th, 2011 07:27 pm (UTC)
Nope, that was pretty much my experience too. No long wait and a very satisfactory outcome.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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