I live in Brussels (Belgium) and the health care here, in my opinion, is wonderful. You pay a little every month, get to choose your doctor and 75% of all your medical costs are reimbursed. At the beginning of my depression, I would go and see my doctor once a week. He would always ask me how things were going, which more often than not, would ensue a deluge of tears from me. He would patiently listen to everything I had to say, no matter how ridiculous, and took copious notes. All this took time, but I never felt rushed, and he would never check his watch to see how long I’d been there.
As things progressed, I would visit him once every two weeks and finally once a month. If I didn’t have the money to pay him straight away, he would give me my receipt, that I would hand it in to my Mutuelle (the Belgium equivalent of the NHS) so that I could be reimbursed first and then pay him. Whenever he had a box of my medication, he would give it to me for free. Now that’s what I call a great service.
Last year, my mother who lives in the England, suffered a stroke and was paralysed down the left side of her body. As a consequence, I went over to be with her and help out any way I could. I came armed with a month’s supply of my medication, which eventually ran out. So, I went to see the local GP in the area and was shocked to discover than one appointment is 10 minutes. You can book a double appointment. However, these are in high demand and therefore hard to come by. To make matters worse my anti-anxiety medication, wasn’t available in England so the GP gave me the next best thing.
As it transpired, the next best thing didn’t work for me and was in fact Valium disguised as Diazepam, which is highly addictive. I was not best pleased, and neither was my doctor back in Belgium. During my eight-week stay in England, I really missed by regular doctor and at a time when I could have really used a friendly ear was on my own. My one saving grace were my nightly phone calls to my sister who lives in Italy, without those calls, when I would rant and rave, I would have gone totally around the bend. I still can’t believe that those on high have the audacity to call it the National Health Service, when there is no service involved!
- Fears patients may have suffered harm or died due to NHS helpline failings (guardian.co.uk)
- Tough warnings for NHS 111 services (bbc.co.uk)
- Probe into new NHS 111 advice line (standard.co.uk)
- Three deaths investigated in relation to NHS 111 (telegraph.co.uk)
- Three deaths investigated involving NHS non-emergency 111 hotline (independent.co.uk)