Jan 04 2019

Is there a country where the health system is not a mess?

Category: English posts,Miscellaneous,PersonalIuliana @ 1:37

…because if there is, and you know which it is, just share the secret with me, because I want to move there. Anyway, this blog entry is a rant against the UK health system, so at this point you might be interested in reading something else while having your coffee.

I mentioned a few entries ago that I have sprained my knee while playing football. Because I was still able to drive and walk I postponed going to a doctor, especially since I just moved to a new country and I did not have a family doctor yet. The knee was swollen for a bit, but then the swelling started going down and I could put my weight on my knee, it did not feel unstable or anything really worrisome, so I just paused all challenging physical activities to give it time to fix itself.

Still, because I am a careful adult, I decided to use one of my vacation days to try to get a GP. I Googled a little and found out that there is a GP practice in my area, about 5 minute walking distance, went on their site, downloaded, printed and completed their forms and at 9:00 am I was at their door eager to register. The practice looked quite clean, very this-century and a nice lady gave me yet another form to complete with some data. While I doing that the lady came back and told me they cannot register me, because my address is not in the area covered by their practice.

Obviously, I was stumped. Because in Romania GP practices do not really have their designated areas, you can register with any practice you want, and doctors are eager to have more patients registered, because they receive more money from the government. Usually people register to practices that are most closer to home, so this makes for quite a balanced distribution of patients.

And I asked them where should I go and they told me my address was actually covered by a GP practice that was about 30 minutes walking distance. Just what I needed with a recovering sprained knee, a 30 minutes walk distance. Anyway, I put my brave face up and start walking. And I walk until I am bored, and then some more and I enter a shady area and then I see the building, a quite plain old house. And I enter and go to what looked like a reception. The reception had a full view of a library full of big folders with yellow-ish papers inside. It looked like an old archive of some kind and it smelled like old paper too.

A nice lady came to the desk and offered to help. I told here I want to register as a patient, that I have all the forms and everything. Well she looked stumped. Not because of my efficiency, but because it was not possible for me to have forms, because registration forms are given only on Tuesday morning and returned completed on Friday.(I went there on Monday) So, naturally I asked: Why can’t they be downloaded from the site? And she said: We have no site. And then she also mentioned that they have so many patients that want to register that on Tuesday morning there is usually a huge queue in front of the practice and they only give out ten forms so … So what do I do?I ask, almost panicking. I don’t know, she answers.

And that was the conversation. I walked 30 minutes with a recovering sprained knee for … nothing. And I don’t know if you believe me, but when I turned to leave I scanned the place. This practice was ancient. I think the last practice that I saw looking like that, old folders and everything is the practice where my parents took me when I was 4 years old, because I almost died because of an allergic reaction. That was about 30 years ago, in then-communist Romania. And I am still shocked about that GP practice. Only 30 minutes walking distance form the other GP practice and one century apart. And all this in a civilized country.

So yeah, for the next six years, I will probably have to manage without a GP. Because I’ll be damn if I leave this country without getting citizenship. And apparently you cannot do anything without a GP referral. Luckily for me, one of the company benefits is a private insurance that happens to have a practice 2 miles away from where I live. And I will call them tomorrow and explain them the situation, of me not having a GP and needing a knee consult and most probably an MRI. Not sure what am I going to do if I need an operation. But I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Meanwhile, I’ve read this entire article about the knee and at least I am confident enough that the fact that the knee is stable, most probably means no operation is needed to fix it. But I would like to have an estimate of when I will be able to run again. I will probably be quitting football though. Oh well, it was good while it lasted, and that was about four months.

I am still baffled by the fact that the UK health system is such a mess. I totally did not expected this. Here I am again in a country where I pay taxes for a national insurance system, and most probably I won’t benefit from it without a bloody GP to refer me. I’ve moved 1600 miles away from a communist country and in this aspect, it feels like I’m still there.

This was the rant. There isn’t really a conclusion, just a lot of disappointment.

Stay safe, stay happy!

(Meme source: https://memegenerator.net/)

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3 Responses to “Is there a country where the health system is not a mess?”

  1. Anetka says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your knee, definitely do not underestimate the problem, these things are delicate. And I totally understand the problem, I also heard lots of bad things about UK/Irish healthcare. I used to live in Finland, it was definitely better than UK stories but soooo slow, so byrocratic and waiting times were insane. When I got back to Slovakia – also post-communist country, I realized that I actually prefer our healthcare. Yes, the hospitals often look old and lots of doctors are quite aloof, but somehow they manage to do things much quicker and in more efficient matter (and I did need lots of stuff done unfortunately) – several years ago I would never have imagined to say something like that. Maybe, postpone some not so urgent stuff until you’re in Romania for vacations? Many my friends living in UK do that – although without local insurance, it’s still much cheaper and efficient than usual UK way. I wish you lots of luck, don’t worry, it will get better ;-)

  2. Iuliana says:

    Thank you very much for your kind words. I actually started considering exactly this, to wait and go for a full checkup of my knee when I go back to Romania. Until then, I’ll just do all I can here.

  3. Cristina says:

    Iuliana try to inquire if the private insurance can cover some of the costs for seeing a good musculoskeletal physician. In the Netherlands, a musculoskeletal physician can examine and treat medical injuries.
    You shouldn’t need a GP referral for specialist treatment as physical therapy. It must be similar with NL, where GP referral is needed for visiting specialists at hospital. Private specialist opinions can be just as good, even better (hence they are independent and thrive on good service to paying clients), but on the expensive side, that’s why don’t forget to inquire for costs and private insurance coverage.

    I have had great experiences in NL with a sports boutique which employs personal trainers with academic background in physical therapy and sports. They can do something as medical taping which should provide some daily pain relief. For the medical taping you don’t need to have a subscription with the sports boutique. An appointment for physical therapy should be enough.

    I am so sorry to read your story around finding a GP in UK. Unfortunately my experience with multiple GP practices in The Netherlands was just as unpleasant. Getting the citizenship didn’t improve anything in my case, I just became more resourceful over time, due to their incompetence.

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