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To worry about not being able to see a paediatrician on the NHS?

(207 Posts)
RevoltingPeasant Sat 15-Oct-11 14:02:27

Okay, so talk some sense into me, please.

I grew up in the US with private health insurance (obv). My sisters and I saw a paediatrician until we were in our late teens - in fact our 'family doctor' (GP) would not take patients under 16. I think this is normal in other countries as well - my German friend says the same.

We also got check ups really regularly, at least once a year but often more, and especially when we were babies. In fact, my younger sister's extremely aggressive abdominal cancer was first spotted when she was still pre-verbal, just during a routine check up. A few more weeks and it probably would have been untreatable - we are super lucky she lived.

DP and I are planning a family now, so I'm looking into these things, and have been told by friends that it's not normal to take DCs to a paed in this country (except in serious cases in hospital) and that check ups aren't regular if there aren't obvious symptoms. I find this worrying in a general sense, and also because with my family history, there is an increased chance that any baby of mine will develop that form of cancer.

Am I just being extremely precious?? Suffering from culture shock? Or this is genuinely a real gap in the NHS? It just seems.... negligent to me, not to give children routine preventative medicine, especially when they are too young to verbalise properly.

2cats2many Sat 15-Oct-11 14:07:56

You can take your child to your GP whenever you want to. Mine don't go often, but then I don't have a family medical history like yours, so there's no need.

I don't think its a massive gap in the NHS, but I can see why you might be struggling with it in terms of a culture shock. Mind you, I might stuggle if I went to live in the US and was asked to fork out vast wads of cash for private health insurance.

Birdsgottafly Sat 15-Oct-11 14:08:47

Babies are given health checks by those who specialise in paediatric medicine.

I think that there is a difference in the qualifications held around the world, you cannot practice in this country with qualifications gained in America.

Also if you have any concerns you would take your child to a childrens hospital, it isn't there just for 'serious' concerns.

I think that there has been a mix up in the use of termonology, babies and children in the UK are not going without treatment.

Birdsgottafly Sat 15-Oct-11 14:10:13

Just to add igf there is a genetic posibility of a disease, your baby will be screened and checked for this, this could be as little as yearly or more.

holidaysoon Sat 15-Oct-11 14:11:22

It's routine here not negligant (someone growing up in this system might see the US idea as negligent certainly waasteful wink-not for one moment belittling your families experience with your sister of course)

So it's not a Gap, you are probably only being a bit precious but more likely have culture shock

How would your sisters problem be checked for in the States, how often etc etc you have 2 choices pay for a private check up just as you would in the States (or get your insurance to pay) or go and see your GP and discuss.

Groovee Sat 15-Oct-11 14:12:00

You can see your GP for these things. If you have concerns or the GP had concerns, then the GP would send you to the Paediatrician at a hospital. We're fortunate to have an NHS. You could always go to a private doctor instead if it concerns you that much. I think you need to understand the GP would be your first port of call instead of different doctors dependant on age.

HeidiKat Sat 15-Oct-11 14:13:31

YAB a bit precious, yes, I'm sure you could find a private paediatrician who would be willing to do regular check ups on your children for a fee. This country, like many others at the moment, is in a recession and has a huge national debt. The NHS is being forced to make cutbacks all over the place, it is not feasible for money to be spent on appointments for children who have nothing acutally wrong with them. The onus is on you as a parent to keep an eye on your child's wellbeing and report any concerns to your GP.

RitaMorgan Sat 15-Oct-11 14:14:47

You can take your baby monthly (more often if you are concerned) to see the Health Visitor to be weighed and checked over, and of course to the GP if you want as well.

whiteoleander Sat 15-Oct-11 14:15:06

I think YANBU entirely and have often found this very odd as well (without your cultural background).
But as you will see from the responses you will get, people in this country are totally brainwashed into thinking our system - where there is no routine oversight of children's health by a qualified expert - is not just adequate but excellent. People get very emotive about this. Similar to maternity care. It's all about resources and in a state funded system of healthcare, they are not sufficient for this kind of gold-standard monitoring.
You can see a private paediatrician which I have done on occasion. If just for your peace of mind, I would recommend it.

holidaysoon Sat 15-Oct-11 14:15:07

Sorry pushed post too quickly by discuss I was saying go and see you GP tell him (or her) what it is and how it is checked for in the US and see if they will refer?

Can you get your baby checked up in the States when you go home for a visit?

My cousin has a paed for her dd in the States seems like a bit of a waste of time to me TBH (for her) however she struggles to understand why my kids don't get regular monthly (or whatever) checks

gordyslovesheep Sat 15-Oct-11 14:15:11

yab a bit precious - if your sister routine apt had been a few later ...

You can go private in the UK if that would make you feel more secure but we DO have specialist health visitors on hand and with weekly clinics that you can talk to - and your GP

also if admitted to hospital they will be on specialist wards with specialist doctors - and it's all 'free' ( paid for through your taxes) so no huge bills or second class service for the poor smile

littleducks Sat 15-Oct-11 14:18:36

I think that it is a culture shock.

You baby will be checked over by a paediatrician in hospital before being dishcharged and can be referred back at any time. If you are worried you could pay privately and see a paediatrician.

My children have been seen by a GP less than 10 times between them and are fine and healthy at 5 and 3, so imo routine paediatrician visits would be a waste of resources, I would rather they were treating children who were actually ill/required more close medical attention due to family history.

MrsHuxtable Sat 15-Oct-11 14:19:39

YANBU but then I'm from Germany. wink

holidaysoon Sat 15-Oct-11 14:19:43

actually whiteoleander I was very vocal on a recent thread about just how unexcellent the system is (and agreeing with you how ironically some people defend it without realising that they would get more pleasant treatment, probably better treatment and in many cases live for longer with a different system-not a US type one though probably more a Northern EU type)

I just don't think that routine paed checks is where anyone would spend the money TBH sorry

Iggly Sat 15-Oct-11 14:21:43

white we have regular check ups here too, what are you on? We have several GPs at our practice who specialise in paediatric care plus you can get referred. I lost count of the number of times I've been to the GP/HV clinic with DS in the first year!

At least we have healthcare access regardless of the size of your wallet.

RevoltingPeasant Sat 15-Oct-11 14:24:39

Thanks all, appreciate it smile

I take the point about HVs but they are not doctors - right? My sister's cancer was discovered during a routine check up - my mum didn't know anything was wrong except my sister had been a bit more tearful recently, but she was her 3rd DD, so my mum just took it in her stride, one of those things, a stage they grow out of, etc.

She was 8 mos old. Babies got checked (iirc) about once a month then - weight, abdominal palpitations, bloods, etc. The thing about 'wasting money on DCs when there's nothing wrong with them' as one PP said is that you don't KNOW there's nothing wrong until you find something like this. It was an absolute bolt from the blue for my mum, as you might imagine!

I guess I struggle with the total lack of preventative medicine here, like oleander said, for adults too. It makes sense to me, with an obesity 'crisis' and lots of people getting heart disease and preventable cancers from their lifestyles, to have regular health screenings. Surely they would help to prevent the massive burdens on the NHS from these sorts of diseases?? - surely they're a good investment?

holidaysoon Sat 15-Oct-11 14:24:53

Just a couple of things OP
your family doctor is probably trained in adult internal medicine hence why he doesn't see kids probably doesn't do smears either?!!!???

it would seem from what you said that your sisters illness was not picked up by these routine checks but was luck or a higher power or whatever because if you were hving annual checks and only a few more weeks would have made a difference then had the check not been when it was it would have been missed

ballroomblitz Sat 15-Oct-11 14:25:48

My ds saw a paed every 6 months until he was four due to being born early and slight developmental delay. I have to say I think what we received on the NHS is second to none. He has had appointments with OT, SLT, child development clinics, eye specialists, geneticists and more. If there is a problem I don't hesitate to call the GP and he gets an appointment that day.

I would definately speak to your GP about your concerns. If there is a chance of heriditary problems I would like to think they would bring your dc in for more regular check-ups.

camdancer Sat 15-Oct-11 14:26:18

My Dad calls the NHS the "national illness service". It is very poor at preventative medicine imo. We have screening programmes but nothing like the US where children see paediatricians and women see gynacologists just to get a check up. I'm not surprised that you see it as negligent that we don't have those things, but the NHS does the best it can on a relatively small budget.

If you have a good GP then you could talk to them about your specific concerns and they moght refer you to the hospital. Otherwise you'll have to go private.

RevoltingPeasant Sat 15-Oct-11 14:26:43

....Oh and before anyone thinks I am a spokesperson for private insurance, I'm not!!

That same sister who survived cancer still lives in the US, in a not fantastically paying job - she only has minimal health ins as a consequence and has recently struggled to get specialist treatment after an illness. So yeah, that's a rotten system too, much more so than here.

Purplegirlie Sat 15-Oct-11 14:27:29

Am I the only one who cringes watching programmes that show American healthcare on them? It's obvious that all the checks and referrals, and extra thoroughness are so that the healthcare provider can earn more money. There is one on the Discovery Health channel, I think it's called "Deliver Me" about a group of obstetricians and a pregnant woman only has to mention she is feeling nauseous and she is sent for countless extra scans, blood tests, check ups etc.

I think the NHS is perfectly adequate, but if you are unhappy with how the system works here then the answer is simple; see a private paediatrician.

tyler80 Sat 15-Oct-11 14:28:27

You know life expectancy is actually lower in the US than the UK don't you?

I'm astonished they take blood tests monthly from babies in the US when there's nothing wrong with them shock

RevoltingPeasant Sat 15-Oct-11 14:29:26

ballroom you think so? I might do that.

Thing is, I get most of my info on this from my German friend - who is herself a GP - and she actually takes her own DCs back to Germany to get treated because as a doctor, she thinks really poorly of the paediatric care here. That's what kind of spooked me.

constipation Sat 15-Oct-11 14:29:29

I would go private if I were you for peace of mind if you can afford it or get insurance to do so.

In the UK you would normally only go to a GP when the child is ill not for routine checks/preventative advice. HV have had huge cut backs and in many areas even 1 and 2 year checks are done by nursery nurses to free up HV time. Many HV dont see the child after this age. Yes there are weekly clinics but a quick chat in an open plan room may not be what you want. Mine refused to discuss my child once he started school even at age 4 or the impact it had on the younger siblings.

School nurses weigh and measure at about age 5 but in my experience are very hard to get any help from and cover a huge area and I found were only available if school have referred not for advice.

holidaysoon Sat 15-Oct-11 14:30:12

Do you really think coming from the US you are in a position to talk about preventative medicine and the obseity crisis and expect us not to laugh TBH!!!!!?

there is not a total lack of preventative medicine here a lot of what is done does have an evidence base (and unfortunatly a cost benefit analysis)

HV are def not Doctors they are nurses some excellent some (like everywhere)

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