A Hospital Visit

On Monday afternoon, I had an appointment at the eye clinic in Norwich.

I have Glaucoma, and the beginnings of cataracts, so I have been attending eye clinics since I still lived in London. To reduce the pressure in my eyes, I take a twice-daily eye drop of a beta-blocker medicine, called Timolol. I cannot do anything about the cataracts, and they will eventually require surgery.

I drove up to Dereham, and caught a bus into Norwich. The bus travel was free, as I have had a free bus pass since I was 62 years old. That is funded by the government from the National Insurance payments I made when I was working, and I can potentially go anywhere in the UK using it, with no charge at all.
(But only on a scheduled bus, not coaches or trains)

A short walk from the bus station to the clinic, and I was booked in and waiting with other people for the tests. The first one was a conventional eye test, with each eye covered in turn. Following that, I had a ‘Visual Fields’ test, where I had to use a ‘clicker’ to record various lights appearing on a screen in front of me. I then had to wait in a room, until I was called in for the next procedure.

This involves a localised liquid anesthetic, dropped into my eye, and another drug that dilates my pupils. After that takes, I have to sit with my head in a device, as a small brush is moved into contact with my eyeball, measuring the pressure inside as it touches it. I don’t enjoy this part, although it is not painful. And as usual today, the technician had to physically keep my eyelid open with his fingers, to get an accurate reading. That was followed by a painless photograph of the back of my eye, the results looking something like a photo of the planet Mars.

A quick chat followed, and after ninety minutes spent in the clinic, I was allowed to leave, until next year. The results will be sent to the ‘main man’, at the hospital. If he needs to follow-up, I will get a letter.

The point of this post is that all of this was ‘free’, including the bus travel both ways. ( 40 miles, round trip) My lifetime of contributing to National Insurance through my salaries had completely covered the cost, including the monthly eye drops. And even if I had been unable to work, and had never contributed, it would still be provided, free of charge.
This is the NHS, which with all it faults, is still a wonderful institution.

The next time my friends who live in countries without a good healthcare system are thinking about their health insurance costs, and the price of drugs in that country, maybe they should consider campaigning for something similar.

73 thoughts on “A Hospital Visit

  1. Given that my son has certainly benefited from the service of the NHS over the last three years, saving his life in fact, and all for free, I cannot deny that the NHS is something to be proud of. Saying that though I have seen the affects of under-staffing, the pressure on the nursing staff and auxiliaries, a lack of ward beds, the interminable waiting in clinics and A&E. Delays in ambulances reaching emergencies, postponement of operations because there are no beds for after care. Sending patients home too soon and no district nurse to follow up on progress and recovery. The desire for this government to outsource everything leads to additional costs to the NHS as we all know that private companies are in it to make a profit, then these private companies go bust and the services they provide disappear (as in the TVs in hospitals in many parts of the country). And don’t get me started on the cost of drugs! I also wish that there were more NHS dentists around as dental treatment is very expensive if you go private as we have to. To maintain a (free) service like this takes a lot of money and I would like to see our government making all those uber wealthy people and companies pay a lot more taxes into the system and for that money to go to the NHS and other public services.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The money is there, Jude. It is being spent on unnecessary ‘vanity’ projects, like these.
      HS2= ยฃ55 BILLION
      Trident= ยฃ35 BILLION+
      It just has to be spent in the right places, and we need a drastic change in government to do that. I know exactly what you mean about all the faults in the NHS, (we go to a private dentist) but I still believe the alternative is far worse for the majority.
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. USA citizen, wading in here on the comments/feedback/reporting section on the topic covered – :). After many years of having insurance, the increasing difficulty in finding a doctor who doesn’t think you’re bonkers if you take an active interest is finding ‘ways’ to integrate better health care into your daily life, through the burgeoning diet/self-care/guru industry boom(s), rising health care costs, making due via reading alot and practicing medicine on myself, The passage of the Affordable Health Care Act, the less than stellar implementation of technology to make required changes easy to navigate…etc..etc…etc…

    I’m once more, at 1 minute past midnight, on the roster of ‘uninsured’ – and, despite having some kind of coverage the past few years, have found, in the end, me practicing medicine on myself often has better results than paying big $s to someone else to ‘do for me’ –

    On the other hand, this pre-supposes that nothing major will happen, re: trauma/accidents that don’t neatly fit into my stated desires in my Living Will/Do Not Resuscitate Orders AND means, I must not be too attached to being here long term, for any reason – BUT still attached enough to take pleasure in building/planning for tomorrow –

    In the end, there are systems that can pave the way for stellar quality of life, systems that impede, rather than enhance and systems that don’t work, not really, for anyone, long time, really –

    And so, just wanted to say – Glad you are getting what you need – Thankful you shared your views – and I, while I yearn to visit/explore/make connections and gain insights from others, realize “Well, if the mess here has a chance of getting fixed, up to those in the mess to step up and be a part of fixing it, EVEN if that means (gasp) practicing medicine on ourselves and reporting back the results, either with our fellow citizens or to the wider world – ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks for this beautiful, post that much more concise & succinct than my comment – hope you forgive me for being ‘long winded’ – ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your own thoughts, and for leaving a comment all the way from Pikes Peak. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Additional thanks for following my blog too.
      Long-winded is never a problem here!
      Best wishes from Beetley.
      Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The NHS is truly magnificent. One of my dearest friends is back home in South Africa. Her daughter has an autoimmune condition and frequently becomes very ill. Unfortunately my friend cannot afford both rent and health insurance so often her daughter goes untreated as the little bit of government funded healthcare available is in such a poor state that people who go in with even minor ailments often become worse in hospital and die.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thankfully I haven’t had to use the health service that often over here if Poland, but when I have it has worked well and for free (I pay national insurance as a framer), with the option to jump queues if you want to pay for things; e.g. an MRI scan (for a slipped disk) that I would have to wait for three months for I was able to pay ยฃ60 and have it the same day. It did make me question why the machine was available to rent when it should be servicing the queue, but not for too long ๐Ÿ™‚
    A doctors visit is the only thing that frustrates me as you cannot make an appointment, you simply turn up and wait in a queue, although you will always be seen the same day, so I guess thats not so bad.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is getting harder to see a GP quickly here now. But we can usually get an appointment with someone the same week, or see a Practice Nurse the next day. If she thinks you are ‘serious’, you get to see a doctor immediately. Too many people clog up the GP surgeries and Casualty departments with simple things like colds and flu. I just go to Tesco and buy some tablets. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Cheers, Ian. I can’t fault the treatment I have had in Norfolk, despite all the complaints on Anglia TV news. Same for Julie with her Diabetes, and her daughter when she had a baby.
      People complain so much, but they should try to imagine what it is like in a system outside the UK.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks, Lara. I hear a lot of bad stories about health care in America. Also in countries like The Philippines, India, and Pakistan. It does appear to mainly be about ‘income-generation’ in so many countries now, and the wealthy always get the best available care at the expense of the poor, so it seems.
          Best wishes, Pete. x

          Like

  5. I would classify the health care mess in America in the top five national problems of the times. It is abominable how much we pay for how little we receive. The other thing that bothers me so much (I am entrenched firmly in the middle class) is that health services favor the wealthy. I feel that health care should be a fundamental human right.

    The free bus service is a wonderful perk. I’m happy to hear the government finding sensible solutions.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I think this is one important point too, why UK is leaving the EU. Germany nearly has crashed his own health insurance system. Bismarck had introduced the system. The nobility did not want it at the time, and we have more civil servants than ordinary citizens. As in the old Prussian Empire. Wars had to be waged to finance it. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The healthcare here has gone through the roof price wise. My father recently only had a talk for paincare for his back. They did absolutely nothing: not even pictures were taken, just a 10 minute consult: and he got a bill for 250 euros. Thatโ€™s just crazy. Iโ€™m glad that it seems better there (maybe yet another reason to move to England soon lol ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah…it was absolutely outrageous! Especially because my dad didnโ€™t even get helped, and still has the same problems/pain๐Ÿ˜”
        But no…Some things are covered, but not everything unfortunately ๐Ÿ˜”

        Liked by 1 person

  8. good for you, Pete! healthcare in America has become a nightmare. i just had my cataracts removed last year and by electing laser surgery, i had to pay 1500USD each eye after insurance benefits. absurd.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can never see the point of having to pay for insurance that doesn’t cover the total cost. If they are going to make you pay for that insurance, then it should be budgeted to meet your needs.
      Thanks, Wilma.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I had all of this about a month ago, too, and my expenses [not the transport, of course] are covered by my (German) health insurance, even in the US. Of course, I have to pay my insurance for the coverage, so it’s not free. But the system works fine and is affordable.
    As to the NHS: as far as I know, it definitely has it’s bad sides, too, e.g. long waiting listst at hospitals, or the fact that sometimes hospitals don’t have enough rooms for patients. Am I right in that?
    I don’t know, but I think a system like ours in Germany – which also has (some) flaws – works better. That’s why I’m not in favour of the “single payer system: as, e.g., Bernie Sanders propagates it here in the US.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The main problems with the NHS started when many hospitals became ‘Trusts’, and began to decide what to spend their allowed income on. So we ended up with ‘centres of excellence’ for so many things, at the expense of general care, and routine surgery. There are some poorly-managed hospitals, and many with long waiting lists, that’s true. But overall, it is a pretty good system that has worked well for me, my wife, and my step-children too.
      Thanks, Pit.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

        1. My next door neighbour had to travel to Birmingham, for bone marrow treatment that had to be done in a ‘specialist centre’. The treatment was free, but the distance and disruption ( 144 miles away) wasn’t accounted for.

          Like

              1. Well, specialization per se is a good thing, I believe. When I got my stent, it was done in Austin and not here in the local clinic, even if my cardiologist could have done it here. But he doesn’t do it, because for him it would be just a few procedures a year. So he leaves it to his colleague in Austin who does nothing but these procedures and thus has way more experience.

                Liked by 1 person

  10. Pete, don’t get me started…as someone who is obviously “up” on what’s going on in the world, you know that the health care system in the US is beyond awful – not that you can’t get “first class” medical care, far from it – it’s arguably the best in the world. The problem is here you “get what you pay for” and the prices are astronomical…and any effort to make a system that works for everyone if ought tooth and nail. Why? POLITICS. We can’t even agree as a country that the temperature is different, and that pollution is bad! We are headed into a BIG 2020, and health care is still one of the biggest arguments there is…”Obamacare” was a landmark move forward, so of course we’ve tried to kill it ever since!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not just in the US though, John. There are so many countries around the world where healthcare is dependent on income. Those countries need to stop spending so much on weapons and wars, and divert it to caring for their people. The money is there.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Ironically, those here, opposed to a similar health plan to your NHS come up with anecdotal stories, real or fabricated, about long lines, poor service, long waits and the like to decry a move to a sensible approach to health care such as you have. Of course, those here opposed fall into several predictable categories: insurance companies large medical corporations and drug manufacturers who make a profit from the current system, health care providers who feel they will not make as much money under such a system (although they put it as a lack of freedom to practice proper medicine), and a lot of ignorant folks who yell about socialized medicine but who do not know what socialism actually is. So far, the ignorant and the greedy have prevailed in keeping our health care the most expensive in the world with a very large segment of our population without any health care at all. Warmest regards, Theo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We do have long waits for certain things, and my eye appointment was routine, booked a year ago. But emergency treatment is still excellent. And as another example, Julie had a high blood HbA1c test result and was called in to see someone this morning, just one day after her doctor got those results back.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Frank. People are quick to criticise the NHS here, but I think that’s because they have had no experience of the ‘alternative’. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  12. What, become socialists like you guys? ๐Ÿ™‚ I am kidding. Even the health care that we get after 65 is strictly western. Meaning they just prescribe competing drugs. I don’t want prescription drugs at all. The free country wide bus pass sounds great. My family immigrated from England in the 1830’s. Is it too late for me to come back? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Charlie. It is not a perfect system here, and far from socialist. Because if you have money, you can ‘jump the queue’, by paying extra. But it works well enough for the majority of people. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I see no signs of that locally, Stevie. However, I am well aware that excessive demand is causing problems in some cities. I still think it is better than a private system though.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Our healthcare is a mess as you know, Pete. Even after contributing all our lives, we still pay a monthly cost of about $500 for both of us. That is Medicare and a supplemental policy for physician visits and prescriptions. Normal eye visits, dental and hearing are generally not covered. And we still have annual deductibles we must pay as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a sobering reminder of what some politicians here would like to bring in, Maggie. Despite some downsides in terms of speed of treatment, the NHS does at least offer a more equal situation for the majority.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Our government is in so much debt now and people are still (without thinking it through) demanding we open the borders, how do you expect it to be paid for? You do realize the difference in size of our countries, plus the amount of illegals we’re already bailing out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have no real idea about how to sort out the medical situation in the US, GP. But they could start a similar scheme at some point in the future. It has to start somewhere, as it did here following WW2. Perhaps America has had a private system for too long now, but I am hopeful that it could be changed in time.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I will have to have the operation eventually, Arlene.
      Yes, it is all free, though people between 18-60 have to pay a small prescription charge for drugs. Everyone in work pays a National Insurance contribution from their salaries, which is matched by the employer. That goes to the health care, and state pensions too.
      But if you cannot work for some reason, it is all still provided for you.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, FR. I have never been asked about lazer treatment, but my eye pressure has been decreasing over the past two years. Phil might be too young for cataracts just yet.
      Given all the negative stuff in the news about the NHS, I think we should give it praise when we can. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. That is wonderful…..here even with Medicare you have to pay at least part of the cost…..our public transportation sucks….health care system….I had a running battle from a troll from the health industry trying to convince me Medicare For All was going to make me die…..it was fun until he got boring chuq

    Liked by 1 person

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