To feel like actually, health care isn't really free at the point of service?

(57 Posts)
RevoltingPeasant Fri 03-May-13 17:05:01

Would honestly appreciate thoughts on whether I am being precious/ demanding here, but..........

Today I went to a physio appointment. Private physio letting out rooms in an NHS GP practice. The GP practice is closed for a couple of hours or something, and he uses their rooms.

Sitting in the waiting room, I noticed these two posters next to each other:

'On a low income and need help with healthcare costs? Eye care, prescriptions (etc, it went on)'

Then an ad for the private physio I was seeing.

I'm seeing a private physio as I have no hope of getting one on the NHS and it helps me keep active (tendon injuries). I pay for private eye care, and obviously even NHS dentists charge. The posters made me think about how much most people can't get on the NHS 'free'.

I wish it weren't this way, but AIBU to think that actually, except for hospital admissions (which are a big thing of course!) much of the time it is really not true to say that healthcare is free at point of service?

Xiaoxiong Fri 03-May-13 17:13:34

Having lived in the US where it really isn't free at the point of care and you have to save up enough cash for the copay to see the doctor to get a prescription for the pill which you then also pay for in full in cash, YABU.

When you say you have no hope of seeing a physio so you have to go private do you mean the wait is very long, or that the GP won't refer you?

I see your point, but the finite pot does mean a line has to be drawn between life saving needs that must be met immediately, such as paediatric intensive care, and life improving treatments such as physio which can wait until mañana hmm

I had to go private a few years ago to get a problem dealt with. The NHS would have stepped in eventually, but it was better to get the tumour removed before it caused life-threatening internal bleeding. Although that annoys me, I know that the diagnostic tests used to work out what was wrong were very expensive (thank goodness for work BUPA) and still might have shown nothing, so I do understand.

More concerning IMHO are the immediate costs such as transport, parking, lost earnings, or prescription charges incurred by patients in order to access healthcare.

SilverOldie Fri 03-May-13 17:16:52

Healthcare is free unless you choose to see someone privately as you are doing. It's your choice to do so.

RevoltingPeasant Fri 03-May-13 17:19:13

Horry oh yeah, don't get me wrong. I pay happily (well, not happily, but you know what I mean!) for my physio. It enables me to cycle and swim and run. I think these things are really worth doing for my health, but yeah, it's not like oncology!

Of course I do not begrudge others lifesaving treatment, that is not my point at all.

My point is, people always say 'but the NHS is free' whenever it's criticised. But it just occurred that especially if you do not have stacks of cash, actually a lot of pretty routine healthcare is not free.

CloudsAndTrees Fri 03-May-13 17:20:18

The NHS is free at the point of service, there's a lot more they could charge for. You can get physio and eye care on the NHS but they understandably have to draw a line with physio somewhere.

In my experience eye care on the NHS is appalling, if they charged for what they provide they may as well mug you in your sleep.

RevoltingPeasant Fri 03-May-13 17:20:52

Silver but e.g., my eye prescriptions are not free. Without glasses/ contacts, I could not drive, work or do anything safely. So it's not much of a choice!

With my physio, last year I had v v bad tendonitis. I limped noticeably when I walked. I paid for a physio privately to sort that out, but I felt that was more a necessity than a luxury, being in pain at every step.

RevoltingPeasant Fri 03-May-13 17:26:20

But Clouds some things like dentistry aren't. IMO that's a pretty basic health need.

I totally understand that govts have slashed NHS spending and that is why. Of course they need to prioritise the most vulnerable/ sickest patients.

I guess I just started to reflect that one cannot necessarily access free healthcare and that is pretty sad

MrsMaryCooper Fri 03-May-13 17:31:37

There are free NHS frames and if you are on a low income or similar you can get you frames free of charge too. Although I think you might have to pay and claim it back.

You have to pay some dentistry costs. I think that the gov hopes that will encourage people to look after their teeth. It doesn;t seem to be working.

Physio lists are often long I grant you.

ChestyNut Fri 03-May-13 17:36:20

I had tendonitis last year too, saw GP who referred me to physio and seen promptly....for free?

I'd hate not too have a NHS.

tomorowisanotherday Fri 03-May-13 17:45:01

I'm sitting here with holes where three of my fillings used to be... I cannot afford to see dentist and cannot afford the standard charges. I don't qualify for any benefits since both me and my husband work. I'm waiting for Dentist to make its way to the top of the necessities list. I'm also waiting for the Spectacles fairy to turn up and grant me an eye test, not to mention the glasses that I know I need.

I have a prepaid prescription that charges me £10.50 per month, and to my shame the direct debit has bounced and they had to take it the following month. However without that I'd have to pay 5 lots of prescription charges per month, and would have to go without medication.

so free on the point of use -NO
accessible to everyone - NO
are there people who cannot afford basic healthcare - YES

NotKathyReichs Fri 03-May-13 17:52:37

I have an impacted wisdom tooth, last time it flared up I couldnt eat for so long I lost 8lb, and I have a low BMI anyway. I cant afford to get it removed privately and I cant get an NHS dentist.

A friend recently asked to borrow some money, she had a prescriptipn for antibiotics but couldnt afford to collect it until payday sad

The NHS is a brilliant service but no, its is not free

ChunkyPickle Fri 03-May-13 17:53:14

I do feel that the NHS might have lost its way occasionally though.

I'm pregnant at the moment, so get free dental etc. for then next 18 months or so - at some point, the NHS did the sums and discovered that it was cheaper overall to do this than to have pregnant women with the problems not being able to afford it would cause - a purely economic reason - yet I doubt that such a policy would get through if it were introduced today (can you imagine the yells from the Daily Mail!)

Physio and some other treatments are similar - by doing something now, you can save a fortune down the line (as well as improve lives), but the NHS, in a mislead fit of thinking its saving money won't actually do anything until the problem is really serious.

I don't know the solution. I do know that somehow the NHS needs to get away from whatever it is now, and try to get back a bit of the spirit it was started in.

abbscrosswoman Fri 03-May-13 17:55:12

NHS healthcare is only 'free' at the point of service (or any other point for that matter) unless you don't pay tax or NI eg you are unemployed.

The NHS is an insurance scheme, one that is very good at keeping the premiums low while still providing a high level of care. I think all other National Health systems are inurance schemes to a greter or lesser degree, some may cot more, some may provide even better care.

abbscrosswoman Fri 03-May-13 17:55:56

* greater, cost

WilsonFrickett Fri 03-May-13 17:58:21

Chuncky though if you're talking about the spirit the NHS was started in, physio basically didn't exist. I think the point is primary health care is free - GP visits, hospital, A&E, childbirth, children's prescriptions, etc.

Although in Scotland all prescriptions are free, as are eye-tests and (I think) more dentist services.

Abra1d Fri 03-May-13 17:58:46

'Healthcare is free unless you choose to see someone privately as you are doing. It's your choice to do so.'

This isn't true, not at our practice. For a number of things they tell you to go privately if they think you can afford it. Especially if you are a middle-aged male. My husband has had to fight for NHS treatment of a huge lump of (as it turned out) fat on his arm that was preventing him from moving the arm. He has also had to fight to have extremely sore joints in his foot investigated.

If you have a bad back they tell you to go to an osteopath or physio. Even my daughter, then 12, with a sore knee joint was told to go to the physio.

ThingummyBob Fri 03-May-13 18:00:41

I think its that 'emergency' healthcare is free at the point of treatment, rather than 'basic' healthcare.

Can you check your area for a dental hospital tommorrowisanother. I've had 'emergency' treatment at the one in my town before when couldn't afford the dentist and was in pain.

ImagineJL Fri 03-May-13 18:06:35

Most things are free on the NHS. You can see a GP, or go to A&E for free, have blood tests, X-rays, out-patient referral, more tests, surgery - all for free. Prescriptions are free for people on very low incomes in England, free for all in Wales I believe, not sure about Scotland. Yes there are waiting lists, but that is due to huge demand.

It was inevitable really, that as science advanced, so the state wouldn't be able to fund everything the medics were capable of doing.

I mean, people can now have surgery costing thousands, to make food they eat bypass their stomach, so they can lose weight that way rather than by eating less. I know that's a simplification, but I think it sums up what is expected of our state health service these days.

trice Fri 03-May-13 18:10:20

I wish I could afford private health care. The Nhs provide a very second class service a lot of the time. Being poor sucks.

I agree, OP, most people have this hazy idea that "the NHS is free to use" which is a massive oversimplification at best.

But the idea of people going without basic medical care - thinking of someone going off ADs cold turkey because the prescription ran out and she couldn't afford to refill it; or someone who put off getting a hospital referral for a year for childcare/transport reasons - because of upfront cost makes me sad

BrittaPie Fri 03-May-13 18:24:27

You can have a relatively high income (about £15000 - higher than I have ever had, anyway) before losing your fee exemption. Could be worth checking out.

You don't pay anything at all upfront for eye tests or cheap glasses, prescriptions or at some dentists (some just charge a lower rate if you have an exemption)

I need some things not on the NHS, more involved physio and therapy, as well as four teeth removing, as the waiting lists are either too long or non existent, and I just have to deal with it. hmm

I do agree that it should be free for all though. I think it is a basic principle that should be holy - glasses and pain free teeth are not a luxury.

somewhereaclockisticking Fri 03-May-13 18:33:13

Worth noting that private and NHS physio are completely different though - I've had both and the private physio was wonderful. They stretched and pulled and used an ultrasound (or something) and after 6 months the pain I had had on and off for years and years - went away. A few years later I was no longer covered by the work private scheme and so had to rely on the NHS physio - I was told you could only receive so many treatments but I actually only went once - basically I was just talked to about what exercises I could do to help. When my DD2 needed physio for her leg we went along every few weeks to the hospital and again she was just given different exercises to do each time. Everyone I have spoken to about NHS physio has said the same thing so the NHS don't even provide a service that I expected physio to be which you do get if you pay privately. Having had the private treatment (at the time it was £28 for half hour) I think if I was ever in need and could afford it - I would choose to go private again.

StinkyElfCheese Fri 03-May-13 18:44:08

my son has had neuro surgery on the nhs ... we could never have afforded this - I am pretty sure i will never pay enough tax to have covered this.

I am gratefull that with live in the UK

tomorowisanotherday Fri 03-May-13 18:47:58

we have no dental hospital, nearest one is on the mainland... then theres the ferry fees to add...sad

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