Friday, November 13, 2009
One Benefit Of The NHS
I have come to appreciate a few things about being part of nationalized health care here in the UK. The NHS (National Health System) has a program that you can use if a health problem should come up. It is called NHS Direct. If you fall ill or your child falls ill you can call the NHS direct number and talk with someone over the phone about the problem. It is sort of a phone triage system, if you will. The person on the other end of the phone asks you several diagnostic type questions and then puts you in the system to receive a phone call from a doctor. The doctor returns your call fairly quickly and decides if you need to come in for a visit. The doctor then schedules you in for your appointment later that day or asap.
If you get sick over the weekend then they have after hours offices you can go to. You follow the same process above and get an appointment at the after hours office. This way, if it isn't an emergency you can get medical care quickly without having to go to the ER and wait and wait.
The system saves a lot of money because it keeps people from going into the ER--which is the most expensive way to be seen with a medical problem. And you don't have to worry about paying out of pocket to go to a medical clinic that isn't covered on your insurance plan if your problem occurs after hours.
We've used the after hours place twice--once for me and once for Ewan. It worked great! And we used the NHS direct to be worked into a doctor's office during regular office hours in the week when Graham had his rash a few weeks ago. We talked to the doctor directly on the phone for Graham (after going through NHS direct) and he even called us back because he could see us sooner than our appointment was scheduled for.
I'm sure there are glitches in the system, but we have so far been pleased with being able to see a doctor when we were in need. I've heard some negative things from other people's experiences but for us, so far so good.