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To be annoyed at how some people slag off the NHS?

(295 Posts)
snowtunesgirl Wed 28-Nov-12 16:45:55

No it's not perfect but I'm still grateful that we have a National Health Service where if you need an ambulance, they don't first check you for Health insurance.

A friend of mine wasn't feeling well and had a bad experience with his local GP where he's not registered and for some reason they wouldn't let him temporarily register as an emergency. Therefore, he had to go the Walk-In Centre which was about an hour away.

It turns out that he has an ear infection and tonsillitis so felt pretty rotten but he's making out that he was on death's door and is banging on about how the NHS is shit because the first doctor wouldn't see him. He's also saying that lots of people die on the NHS every day due to neglect. I'm not saying that this doesn't happen but surely it's more of a rarity than the norm?

I've had some shitty experiences with the NHS but on the whole a REALLY positive one. I think it's a shame that all the bad bits of the NHS gets reported in the papers and somehow all the good stories never do. sad

Boomerwang Sat 01-Dec-12 16:59:56

YANBU. It's a free service and I get really narked if someone who doesn't pay into the service has a go at it. I miss it terribly as I live elsewhere and I've had the debt collectors after me for unpaid hospital bills. Hugely embarrassing and humiliating.

threesocksfullofchocs Sat 01-Dec-12 17:20:57

ho can it be free if you have to pay into it??

PacificDogwood Sat 01-Dec-12 19:27:37

It is NOT free, it is 'free at the point of service' ie you'll receive treatment when you need it without an accountant checking first whether you can afford said treatment.

The NHS is by far the best value for money health service in the world IMO.
As somebody else said, where would you ever find any kind of organisation that employs and serves so many people, without problems?? They need addressing, but the NHS is still better than any kind of alternative as far as I can see.

I think one problem is in the expectation (encouraged by politicians keen to be re elected) that a health service ought to provide the best imaginable health care to every individual on every occasion. The NHS if founded on a public health idea aiming to provide as much health care as possible to as many people as possible. Of course it would be nice to have everything for everybody, just not affordable or payable.

People who remember health care before the NHS are beginning to die out and the rest of us need to be responsible users of a system that relies on the 'strong' looking after the weak/sick/old. As it should be in any civilised society IMO.

Boomerwang Sat 01-Dec-12 23:40:15

Yes I did word that badly. In other countries the tax rate is higher and you still have to pay for your own healthcare insurance, whereas it's much cheaper in the UK, particularly if you're not paying at all. I understand that benefits are also taxed, but that's still free money.

AndrewD Sun 02-Dec-12 10:37:46


excellent post. I agree

PS - "somebody else" = me grin

GreenBeer Sun 02-Dec-12 11:12:20

Absolutely hate it. It's not free, I pay and have to go to the doctor they tell me too.

The hospitals are old and dirty and the staff I've had to deal with have been the rudest people I've ever come across and shockingly, so uncaring.

I miss the system in Australia. If you can afford to pay you do, if you can't afford it you get a Medicare card and its free.

GreenBeer Sun 02-Dec-12 11:15:45

Agree Pacific too, we should look after those that need it. But I don't like the NHS and how it is set up as one-fit for all.

ParsingFancy Sun 02-Dec-12 11:21:28

"I just don't have the heart to turn people away who are suffering and pretend to them that it's for their own good and not a resourcing issue."

I feel for you, thunks, but why do you have to pretend this? Why not just tell them it's a resourcing issue?

On the grand scale, the public are the ones who set your budget - through the dreadfully imprecise medium of which govt they elect, but the NHS is still a vote winner/loser.

And on the personal scale, telling people it's for their own good - when you know it's not - has consequences. They may believe you, blame themselves and make bad decisions based on what you say.

Or they may disbelieve you, think you and your colleagues are bad at your jobs, and turn up on MN saying the NHS is intrinsically rubbish and private hospitals are much better.

A while back there was a heart-rending thread about being "tricked" out of epidurals. It was completely clear that a lot of women were suffering not just pain but psychological damage because HCPs were bullying them through without pain relief simply because the unit didn't have resources. I can see why they did it, but pretending the problem was at the individual level ("You're just being a bad girl and not coping properly") was both intensely damaging and disguised the real problem.

If HCPs stopped covering for management decisions, it would allow patients' anger/distress and then attention to focus on the real problem. And we could make sensible decisions about what resources as a nation we want to spend on healthcare, and how.

Purplelooby Sun 02-Dec-12 11:53:58


It is an incredibly stretched service and I am truly sorry for the people on here who have had bad experiences. BUT. I want to share a story about someone I know...

This lady had had 2 early MCs and went on to get PG again. This time she paid for a private clinic to give her a very early scan (although she was entitled to one on the NHS). The clinic saw no heartbeat and gave her whatever she needed (I think a pill and a pessary?) to terminate the pregnancy. This lady found it very hard to do this so she went to her NHS appointment. They also didn't find a heartbeat but they insisted on re-scanning 2 weeks later. 2 weeks later, they found a heartbeat and went on to have a healthy PG.

I also had 2 scans on my baby, on private and one NHS, which gave me different dates. Guess which one ended up being right? Yup, the NHS.

I trust the NHS more than private hospitals because, when it comes down to it, most private hospitals are about making a profit.

thunksheadontable Sun 02-Dec-12 15:16:08

Parsing, I would face disciplinary action for questioning the pathways... I have been very vocal and made lots of written complaints and escalated it and it has always come back on me: if I can't see 42 clients weekly in six slots for that caseload (one day) and do the paperwork, I get told it's my poor time management... even when I did out a chart showing how it was impossible to provide care as per the pathway and escalated it up the organisation, I got sent on stress management training! If only it were that easy... anywhere I am allowed to eg services for post 16, I do say and have supported clients to complain to MPs and councillors where they needed language support to facilitate them. I'm just spent. Have just had horrendous perinatal ocd triggered in part by work stress and have no more to offer in terms of the fight right now...

thunksheadontable Sun 02-Dec-12 15:27:49

Also my own experience as a patient is that being told you should be getting x but are only getting y because of cuts just made me feel lost and desperate as there were no private options I could pursue, I was just told I would have to continue on until after the birth feeling horrendous and terrified as no cbt was available only meds. I was utterly, utterly low and this 'shame, if you'd been referred when you first flagged this up we could have helped but now it's too late, talk again in four months' when I had already waited 22 weeks for that appointment made me feel desperate. It might have led another woman not much different to me but with one more straw on the proverbial camel's back to destruction. I was really very unwell and was essentially told yes, you are but we can't help.... so there's no easy answer. Even if you have the strength and ability to fight on the basis of that info, it is not always great for a person to have to face, not everyone has the resources to manage that information without damaging themselves further in the process. Even if I chose to always be straight and damn the consequences, it still causes harm I'm not prepared to live with causing right now..

snowtunesgirl Sun 02-Dec-12 15:39:18

I trust the NHS more than private hospitals because, when it comes down to it, most private hospitals are about making a profit.

Yes, my midwife said that her other midwife friend had worked at the Portland for about a month before quitting as everything was so money orientated. When I was having my DD and wanted pain relief I pushed the button myself. At the Portland, it was locked out so that if you wanted that pain relief, you had to call for a nurse, then they would come to you and do it for you and you would be charged for EVERY TIME the nurse would do this.

Her friend said that the ethos at the hospital was more about how much money they could squeeze out of patients rather than really looking after them.

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 15:47:04

When I looked into paying into a private scheme, it looked to me like if anything went wrong or got too complicated at the private hospital, they would whisked you away to the NHS. I decided, I would rather be at the NHS hospital in the first place.

somewherewest Sun 02-Dec-12 15:52:04

One point that needs to be reiterated is that the NHS is not free. It is free at point of use. It actually costs well over £100 billion a year. Money is a factor in all healthcare, whether public or private. The private sector needs to keep costs down to maximise profits. The NHS needs to keep costs down because there is only so much the average UK taxpayer is willing to pay. I believe 100% that everyone should have access to the highest level of care regardless of income, but am completely agnostic as to how thats achieved. Turning the NHS as it stands into a sacred cow and thereby insulating it from legitimate criticism is not going to do it any favours in the long run.

ParsingFancy Sun 02-Dec-12 16:10:05

thunks you sound amazing, and utterly heroic in taking stuff on yourself to try to protect patients.

Hope you're able to look after yourself a bit.

For me it's the other way round: knowing waiting is because of resources has helped me hang on in there till stuff comes round. But I agree you can't know how different people will react.

I've had the "there's nothing we can do for you" recently, and believe they mean it rather than are just trying to save money. So I know what you mean about being all out of fight.

confuddledDOTcom Mon 03-Dec-12 01:01:31

I've had bad experiences but my bad experiences have been down to people. I've had many good experiences and they far outweigh the bad.

Someone said about being a high risk pregnancy and if they had their baby here they wouldn't have been seen quickly enough - well I'm a high risk pregnancy and I was seen the day after I rang the hospital, I was given a scan to confirm and date the pregnancy and the prescription I need to be able to carry my baby. I only went to the GP to make my self-referral official. That wasn't a plan in place, that was me picking up the phone and saying I was pregnant and high risk, could I be see urgently please. Call was at 5pm, appointment 10am - guess why they didn't see me earlier...

Pregnancy for me has been the one place they've shone. I must have 30 appointments/ scans per pregnancy and generally I find out late and deliver quite early. I have regular tests to see if I'm in labour because I have constant contractions. I've been transferred across the country to an even more specialist hospital when things were bad, I've had drugs that cost £100 an hour. When my babies have been born they've given me a private room so that I'm not in a postnatal bay, they've kept me in always for as long as my baby has been in (granted climbing the walls at 7 weeks!) And then there's the after care for my 3 premature babies. The way my eldest (the youngest born and most issues) has been looked after is wonderful! She has the most amazing paediatrician and she probably would have been even more ill this year than she was without him.

I am in online support groups with people who have similar problems to me and don't even get Aspirin prescribed to them which is essential with this condition, let alone Clexane (although some people are fortunate enough to be on the right insurance or have enough money to pay) and have lost many babies that they didn't need to. I had a friend ask for tips on getting her daughter to take her inhalers, I asked if she had a chamber and she said she couldn't afford the $70 for one! I offered to send her one free as they only cost £10 here.

I do think there are some issues but most that I've seen have been about the people. As someone who has taken out of the NHS far more than I could ever put in, I wouldn't want to see it go.

snowtunesgirl Mon 03-Dec-12 09:19:48

A sick OP here. sad

But another huzzah for the NHS as I'm off to my doc appointment in an hour.

This time I'm being seen by a medical student first and then by a doctor which will be interesting. Especially as I do a lot of simulated patient work so am used to medical students!

funnyperson Wed 05-Dec-12 22:06:20

thunks raises an important point which is what to say to patients when there are not enough resources to provide nhs care in accordance with recognised national evidence based pathways.
I do think it is important to tell the patient what would be recommended and to say that it cannot be provided due to lack of resources because then that at least gives the patient and family the benefit of an expert assessment and advice. If possible they can then explore the private sector or charities or volunteers to plug the gaps. I dont think it is ethical to pretend that one is turning away a patient for their own good when in fact it is due to lack of resources.
The nhs is not ideal but it does on the whole provide a basic service to everyone. It provides an excellent world class service on occasion - though sadly not to all who need it.

funnyperson Wed 05-Dec-12 22:08:49

I have been shocked by the standards of care provided by some doctors and nurses. I think the permanent NHS contract should be abolished and all contracts reviewed at least every 2 years. There are a lot of NHS staff on a gravy train. There are a lot of agency staff who are unregulated.

Bananapickle Wed 05-Dec-12 23:47:25

Amillionyears - that's exactly right. When anything goes wrong in our local private hospital the patient gets rushed to the NHS hospital.
Another point to make is that mistakes aren't happening because it's the NHS, mistakes happen whatever healthcare system there is. The sheer volume of patients going through the NHS system means there will be, unfortunately, catastrophic events that occur.
Getting rid of the NHS and becoming more like the States won't remove these horrific events it will just mean that as a nation we will become unhealthiest and the divide between rich and poor will become even more defined.
OP YANBU, this country really needs to wake up to the fact that it is a huge privilege having the NHS and most people who are working in it know it isn't perfect and are working very hard to improve things. The government aren't helping this at all at the moment, David Cameron has a lot to answer for.

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