My last two non-joke posts provoked some interesting comments, to my surprise. The surprise is not that they were interesting (do I not have the best, most intelligent readers in the world? I do; and I do not want to end up needing the NHS in an urgent manner by accidentally suggesting otherwise).
My surprise came from the idea that the NHS is not necessarily a good thing. The NHS is a more than a good thing: it is a great thing. But it is not a perfect thing. It may have appeared that I was criticising the system and not the system practitioners; I wasn’t. I understand that there is a finite pot of money and tough decisions have to be made. It’s just easier if the tough decisions affect other people’s husbands.
I’ve paid for medical care (fourteen years in South Africa) and I’ve had it for nothing. Trust me – free medical care is better. You still have the two-hour wait in the doctor’s waiting room, but there’ll be some pennies left in your purse at the end of it.
I exaggerate: since my local surgery introduced an electronic reception board, the wait is usually brief. And the greeting is friendlier.
The NHS may not be a perfect system and it may mean unpleasant people man the phones, but it is disinterested medical care. Not disinterested in its patients, despite my moaning; but disinterested in its willingness to help as many people as possible, no matter what their financial circumstances.
Our financial circumstances are not great. The NHS doesn’t mind that. In the last few months I have had free emergency dental treatment, free doctor visits, a free mammogram and free antibiotics.
Take a look at this:
This is the Hub’s daily tablet intake. Fourteen tablets for his various conditions. Tablets are not cheap. That’s what I’m told – we don’t pay for them.
The concept of free medical care is a foreign one to many of my readers but, believe me, I’m grateful. We are grateful. We were grateful when Spud had an emergency appendectomy. When Tory Boy had his adenoids and tonsils removed. When the Hub was given every test possible to diagnose his health issues.
Pound for pound, we have the best medical care in the world. I find it incomprehensible that there is opposition to the idea elsewhere. Without free medical care, I could have died from blood poisoning brought on by oral infections which would have gone untreated because I could not afford to visit a dentist.
The NHS asks nothing of me except a portion of my taxes once I’m in a position to be taxed, and to tolerate the occasional moody receptionist. I would tolerate a thousand moody receptionists. It’s a small price to pay.