Don’t worry, this is not a recent picture. I did not go to the hospital today.
However, I did make a visit to the GP for my first ever National Health Service (NHS) experience today. Since I am a full time student in Scotland, I qualify for the national insurance and today, I attempted to take advantage of it.
Since Sunday evening I have had a terrible pain in my neck that radiates down into my arm and fingers. I self-diagnosed some sort of misalignment with my neck that was irritating my median nerve and causing inflammation. It has made it very difficult to write and type these last couple days. This is completely unfortunate timing considering we started our practical exams yesterday, which require lots of writing. When I was joking around with one of the lecturers yesterday about the legality of hiring a note-taker, she suggested I fill out an extenuating circumstances (EC) form to account for any poor performance with regard to manual handling and writing. Unfortunately, the EC form requires an attached doctor’s note to validate my ailment. So, I called yesterday to make an appointment for today or tomorrow and she said that she didn’t have anything available for a week and a half. But, she was nice enough to tell me that if I called first thing in the morning, there might be some cancellations I could take advantage of. And I did just that.
Checking in and seeing the doctor was easy enough, but I swear the doctor was in a rush to get me out of the office. She did a couple reflex and strength tests and came to the conclusion that I had an inflamed nerve. Well, gee, thanks. I could have told you that. Then she suggested I take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. Been there, done that. This is a maximum of 4 minutes into the appointment. When I asked her for a note to attach to my EC form, she told me two things that I almost gawked at. 1) It would cost me 15-20 GBP to get a doctor’s note since it was not part of the national health service and was considered a private health service. Seriously?!? One A4 sheet of paper is going to cost me 20 freaking quid?!? 2) It wouldn’t be ready for 2-3 days. Here we go again… Seriously?!? One A4 sheet of paper is going to take 3 days to type up?!? When I asked her if there was anything she could give me for the pain in the mean time since my ibuprofen just wasn’t cutting it, she prescribed me a slightly stronger anti-inflammatory. I haven’t filled it yet. I’m still debating that since I have a small stash of pain-killers that I saved for a rainy day. And for the record, it rained today, so I thought it was appropriate to take one.
Now I understand why everyone is so happy not to pay for health insurance here. If I was getting crap service I wouldn’t want to pay for it either. And if I didn’t have much freedom to take my business elsewhere, I definitely wouldn’t be paying for it.
I know it costs more than it really should for healthcare back in the States, but I am completely happy to pay for good service and to have the freedom to find the best match in health care for me.
Lesson learned: You get what you pay for.