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What does the NHS mean to you?

(36 Posts)
NettleTea Fri 12-Feb-16 08:31:36

Last night I worked out how much my daughter benefits from the NHS.
Her 'basic' (assuming no infections which need treating) drug bill comes to just short of £15,000 a year.

She has 6 appointments a year which include a consultant and 3 specialist team members, lasting about an hour
She has 2 appointments a year which involve 2 consultants and 4 specialist team members, which last about 2-3 hours
She has 1 yearly 'MOT' which includes a whole day of meetings with specialist consultants, X-rays, Lung function tests, bone scans, CT scans and liver scans.
She has an 'on call' dedicated children's nurse
She has physiotherapy on average every 3-4 weeks.

This year she has also had a diagnostic assessment which I know cost over £3000, plus around 50 appointments related to that - again with consultants.

An inpatient stay lasts 2-3 weeks and needs theatre time. She has to have a private room.

This keeps her healthy, so that if you met her you probably wouldnt even know she had anything wrong.

All of this is free at point of use. She receives the same treatment as any other child with her condition, my income or lack of, is no barrier to her getting the best ongoing treatment available.

If the government succeeds in its privatisation by stealth, if we end up with a system such as in the US, I doubt very much that she would have access to the same level of care. Children in the US are often refused medical cover, or their cover has a maximum payout which doesnt go near a lifetime of treatment. Life is literally dependant upon income. The well off will survive, the poor will be denied drugs they need. Wealth should not be a measure of worth when it comes to the lives of our children.

We are so lucky to have the NHS in this country, a service that was set up by a Labour government, at the end of WW2, when the financial state of the country was far worse than it is today, but definitely not as unequal.


Sirzy Fri 12-Feb-16 08:36:24

I love the nhs, I dread to think how much Ds care would have cost if we lived in a country where we had to pay or where insurance only covered part.

He takes 8 meds daily just to stay stable. His is under 7 different medical teams I think.

Just this week he has had a bronchoscopy and as a result needs two weeks of daily antibiotics via IV.

It's stressful enough without worrying about affording it all

Madhairday Fri 12-Feb-16 08:42:57

So grateful for the NHS. I've had a lung condition all my life and been in and out of hospital for inpatient stays, numerous consultant and physio apps etc. I take many meds each day to survive. Without the NHS I wouldn't be here. Dd also has a couple of conditions we rely heavily on the NHS for. We're not well off at all and would not be able to go private.

Something that always stays with me is what happened to a friend in the US - someone I met on a group for people with my disease. She had a treatable infection but had come to the limit of her insurance. They'd sold the house, gone into an incredible amount of debt, struggled to get disability payments, and, refused IV treatment, she passed away. Still sickens me today.

What if our country goes that way? It's beyond terrifying, and the OPS story just shows how much.


NettleTea Fri 12-Feb-16 08:44:10

Hmm sounds like he may have the same condition Sirzy. Although we have a fun ASD disorder thrown into the mix too, which is why the 'extras' have been so heavy the last couple of years. My daughter is 15.
My son also has had multiple appointments, and I have been sent to specialists all over the country.
Sadly the people who need the NHS so much often have the most to lose because, due to the conditions, they may have reduced earning opportunities.
However a freak accident can add up to thousands, so could easily crank up a comparative bill quite quickly. And accident and emergency isnt privately funded, so it wont matter if you went private, apart from possibly the aftercare.

slebmum1 Fri 12-Feb-16 08:48:08

I worked out that my perm twins NICU / SCBU stay would have cost about £170k. It saved my children's lives. To me it is everything.

Sirzy Fri 12-Feb-16 09:08:42

Ds has asd too.

UnGoogleable Fri 12-Feb-16 09:12:19

To me, the NHS has meant having access to all the tests, surgery and scans that I needed without having to make a decision about which ones I could afford.

I have severe endometriosis, which at first they thought might be ovarian cancer. I had a CT scan to look for tumours, God knows how much that would have cost. Then surgery, and now more scans and more surgery with a multi disciplinary team to remove the endo to try to restore my fertility.

Given that the condition isn't life threatening, I assume that if I was in a country where I had to pay for treatment (or my insurance did) I would have had to decide each step whether it was worth it. The NHS releases us from having to make decisions on our health based on financial concerns.

SleepyForest Fri 12-Feb-16 09:18:24

Do you think that people in other developed countries don't have healthcare?

Personally I have cancer. I am reasonably sure that if I had been treated under the German system it would have been caught on one of the first three times I went to the GP, and that having been detected at an earlier stage I would not now be incurable. The nhs has the worst cancer outcomes in Europe.

Alfieisnoisy Fri 12-Feb-16 09:19:18

Absolutely priceless and peace of mind is what the NHS means to me. I feel we are so fortunate to have it.

Alfieisnoisy Fri 12-Feb-16 09:21:13

Sleepy that's awful to hear.

Out of interest what do you think that Germany would have done differently for you in terms of detecting your cancer earlier? I am genuinely interested in how the NHS can improve, I used to work for them but no longer do.

Hillingdon Fri 12-Feb-16 09:22:07

Sorry, but I think it needs an overhaul.

UnGoogleable Fri 12-Feb-16 10:23:50

I do agree that an overhaul is needed though - I have suffered at the hands of bad management, admin errors and outdated procedures. But I can't fault the medical care I had.

One thing though - it took me YEARS of going to the GP to get my symptoms recognised. If I had been paying for the care, I would have just demanded a scan at the first sign of trouble. That is a problem when we feel guilty for putting pressure on the NHS, and I feel that there is a huge culture of deference to the GPs in the UK because of it. People don't like to complain, and don't like to demand because the system is struggling - whereas those in other countries may feel more empowered to get what they're paying for.

Hillingdon Fri 12-Feb-16 10:50:04

Whenever I go to the Dr (which isn't often - I am fit and healthy at present) the waiting room is full of older people. its like a little club in the waiting room.

Around here houses are expensive and there is money here. Yes the older generation seem to remind everyone they have paid in yadda, yadda, yadda. In many cases they haven't. My parents generation saw a majority of women not working or if they were on a part time basis. They retired at 60. The chemist is full of older people picking up their prescriptions and staggering under the weight of them - after all its all free so why not!

When we cleared both my grandparents places after they died there were prescription medicines littered all over the house. Some tablets had been taken but there were packs of them untouched.

I have to pay for my prescriptions so I do think carefully before I buy them.

I think the 'well if it wasn't free some people wouldn't go to the Dr's' is becoming an increasingly poor excuse. You could say that about food, electricity, gas - why isn't that free...

Alfieisnoisy Fri 12-Feb-16 16:50:46

You have to remember though Hillingdon that many older people have more need of medications and more need of changes to medications.

I go through my Dad's medications regularly and return to pharmacists what he is no longer taking. Thankfully his medications don't change as often now but while they were getting his diabetes under control they did.

So your parents may well have had the same issues with medications stopped before they had finished. They may have been prescribed a month or more of medications which for whatever reason did not suit them or do the job they were prescribed for.

Do you suggest a GP should just say "tough luck you have to finish the medication that is not effective before I can prescribe anything else?"

No you wouldn't as you'd want the best outcome for them. Of course it would be helpful if the GP suggested they drop the non effective medication back to the pharmacy but most GPs don't have time to think beyond the next appointment.

Alfieisnoisy Fri 12-Feb-16 16:54:11

Oh and one of the old people in the waiting room might be my Dad so you can fuck off with your "little club" comments. He has worked all his life!

I mean shock horror...older people get more illness and more often. How very fucking dare they be so entitled. hmm

grimbletart Fri 12-Feb-16 17:10:28

Hillingdon's post annoyed me too for another reason.

I am 72. I last had GP treatment over 10 years ago. This means I am probably healthier than you as you talk about being in a doctor's waiting room.

I never talk about being entitled and having worked for 'free' treatment even though I retired only two years ago at the age of 70 - 50 years of full-time work.

You might say I am lucky, but I am not untypical of my circle of friends at all.

I do get a bit tired of the way a lot of MNetters talk about elderly people, mostly on AIBU I admit.

So no, I am not a member of a "little club". Perhaps you live in an area where people are particularly unhealthy?

Mind you, at the rate of obesity we are seeing in younger people these days I think your "little club" may get somewhat larger in 20 or 30 years time (as we appear to be generalising).

sugar21 Fri 12-Feb-16 17:24:51

I am always at the Health Centre because I have MH issues due to the death of my child. I do not see many older people there, in fact the number of obese younger people there is incredible.
My Dad will never be a drain on the NHS he died at 52 from a heart attack and no it wasn't down to his life style.
My Mum has quit the Country so she won't be a drain either.
So I'm the person using the NHS and yes I am working.

Even though my dd died I do not blame the NHS they did their utmost to save her but with meningitis and sepsis at 17 months old she fought a losing battle.

I pick my battles.

ProfessorPreciseaBug Sun 14-Feb-16 05:56:53

I have Sarcoidosis. It is a rare disease and can be fatal. A string of NHS doctors failed to identify it until it was at stage 4. However once something was wrong I was given a huge range of expensive tests. Since then I have often struggled to see my consultant because my type of illness is not "sexy" in medical terms and does not attract much funding.

Meanwhile, when I had a hernia, I was told to put my life on hold for six months on a waiting list. OTOH fatties get treatment straight away for heart attack and other consequences of illness they have helped to get by being overweight. I had to pay privatly.

Good in parts.

hiddenhome2 Sun 14-Feb-16 09:55:33

There is virtually no mental health provision.

Both dcs have serious social anxiety. Repeated attempts to seek help have come to nothing. They continued to suffer.

We're having to pay privately for ds2's psychiatric treatment and ds1 is finally receiving help after an NHS psychiatrist learned of his case by pure accident and pulled some strings hmm

It just shouldn't be this way. My dcs are young people. They deserve help don't they?

The NHS picks and chooses who it helps. I also see tremendous incompetence and waste going on.

Alfieisnoisy Sun 14-Feb-16 13:19:01

"Fatties". Nice hmm

Does your sarcoidosis affect your politeness or are you naturally very rude? hmm

AllThePrettySeahorses Tue 16-Feb-16 19:17:01

Considering that if Sarcoidosis requires treatment (many cases don't) it is treated with steroids that cause weight gain, you really should be more considerate and understanding of other people. You may well be one of those "fatties" soon, as you so charmingly expressed.

maketheworldgoaway Tue 16-Feb-16 20:24:23

I loved your post OP.

I'm a HCP who has worked in MH for over 15 years. MH is chronically underfunded and a poor relation of general health care.

I have seen people let down and neglected due to the limitations of 'the system'. I have fought for better treatment for people in need. I had some successes and some failures and the failures were not due to my care or personal investment but due to lack of available services.

The overall majority of the people I have known were in need and lovely people trying to navigate a complex system which fails many but meets some people's needs.

I now work in a very specialised non - crisis area of MH. It is needed and provided but as a specialist in my field I know how much my time and expertise costs the NHS because I invoice the local CCG. And it is expensive.

It is not something that an average UK resident would afford without the NHS. And if you've got a lot of free income, you can secure a private assessment and diagnosis but in my experience, that is often a dodgy diagnosis bought from someone with GMC registration who'll abandon you when the money runs out. (There are some skilled and excellent practitioners in private health care but there are a lot of inadequate and exploitative ones too).

All of us tax payers think we've 'paid in' and that pays for our use of the NHS. It doesn't if you use more than a GP appointment occasionally. Our tax is a contribution but your personal contribution to the NHS each year is tiny in comparison to the cost of any assessment or treatment you need if you're seriously ill or injured.

I know someone (a personal friend and not a patient) who experienced a psychotic episode and hospital admission of a month and treatment while on holiday in the USA. Her travel insurers were invoiced for several hundred thousand dollars. That would have been free here.

When I was an acute MH ward manager in the UK and a service user from my primary care trust (PCT) had to be nursed in a different PCT because of lack of appropriate beds in my area, we were invoiced for roughly over £2000 per week. And that's another NHS trust with the service user needing no 'extra' provision like 1:1 nursing.

If it was a private health care unit (which often happens as there are frequently no NHS beds available in the UK) then they charge more. We told the government this would happen when they closed multiple NHS beds but they didn't listen. They needed short term savings to meet budgets at that time.

Health care is expensive. Really expensive. And some people have abused the NHS and some people have been let down by the NHS but I don't think I want to head towards a system of privatised health care and I think that's where we're headed.

And I'll be alright. I'm full - time employed by a health service so if we go to a 'health insurance' policy I'll be covered. It's the numerous service users I know that won't qualify and are already suffering from lack of provision that I'm worried about.

ProfessorPreciseaBug Wed 17-Feb-16 07:35:06


Tell me please, why should I be polite to someone who causes their own health problems which need medical treatment ahead of mine because my illness is just bad luch as well as chronic and will not kill me today whereas their heart attack is urgent?

One of the failings of the NHS is that it does not demand people take any responsibility for their own health and in consequence has to deal with illnesses that need never happen.

Crusoe Wed 17-Feb-16 07:48:30

The inefficiency and poor admin drive me mad. I received 4 letters following an appointment my DS had recently. They were all written on different days, said basically the same thing but all had fundamental mistakes such as age (even though date of birth was right), name spelt 2 different ways etc. I find that kind of stuff while trivial gives a very poor impression.
When you actually get to see a doctor it's generally good but everything around it needs a good shake up.

ProfessorPreciseaBug Wed 17-Feb-16 07:50:20


Please be more aware. Sarcoids affets about 4in 10,000 people at the most. Obesity affects nearly 4 in 10. Are ypu really trying to suggest that all the oveweight person i see is a fellow Sarc?

Oh and BTW, I was givern steroid treatment and I worked bloody hard to keep my weight gain to a minimum... then I was taken off steroids and given altenative treatment and promptly lost all the weight gain. Meanwhile my other half is insulin dependant and not obese. You can control your weight.

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