Monday, August 27, 2012

More having a baby abroad (part four). Waiting lists, emergency room visits, and a clarification.

I talk about lots of things on this blog, but I don't always like to talk about deeply personal things. Pregnancy health care is about as personal as it gets, and seeing as it took me a long time to even announce my pregnancy on this blog, I feel like I'm over-sharing here when I talk about an emergency room visit. The conversation on health care is too important to be quiet about, however. In America, we've been fed lie after lie about 'national health care,' and, while I'm not at all advocating we institute a carbon copy of the NHS in America, I feel some sort of civic duty to talk about the quality of care I have received over here.

UK friends who have lived with the NHS their whole lives have read my blogs recently and responded with shock and disbelief. Why? Just as most Americans are fed lies about "death" lists, absurdly high taxes (my tax rate here would actually be less than my tax rate in the US, had I been working, thanks to self-employment tax I pay in the US), and lack of proper medical care, it seems as if many Brits accept things such as less flexibility in their appointment times as something only they have to suffer through.*

My midwife was running ten minutes behind schedule at last week's appointment. She apologized profusely when our name was finally called. The last time I went in to see my lady-doctor -- whom I adore -- back in the United States, I waited thirty five minutes past my schedule time and thought that was pretty reasonable.

So, yeah, we are told that national health care means hours of sitting in waiting rooms, but that is not at all what we've experienced. I'm sure there are exceptions, but personally, I've had far more US doctors be late for appointments than UK docs. (I don't blame the US doctors; I blame their over-loaded schedules.)

Even our one and only (I hope) pregnancy freakout emergency room visit back when I was only 8 weeks was incredibly easy. Everything was perfectly fine in the end, but when we called the NHS hotline with our concerns, they decided I should come into the emergency room. We made the frantic phone call at 11:00pm, and they booked us into the emergency room for a 1:10am appointment. I wasn't bleeding or anything -- just having horrible leg cramps, with a family history of DVT. But no fever or shortness of breath or anything. They offered to send someone to pick us up, but opted for a taxi. I mean, we can't take complete advantage of the system, right?

But let's get back to the idea of making appointments at the emergency room. Rather than sit around a waiting room with sick people for a couple of hours, they tell you what time they'll be able to see you. How is it that that idea hasn't caught on? At least for people who aren't bleeding to death or having heart attacks?

Point of clarification/information that someone kindly emailed to me:
- I'd mentioned previously is that we didn't see a midwife until I was 8 weeks along because I was healthy. It turns out (thanks to you folks who told me about it) that they offer an Early Intervention program to women who have had previous miscarriages or are worried about their pregnancies for whatever reason. It includes extra scans for health checks and peace of mind and even counseling, if you like. How's that for taking care of people?

Next time ... I'll start getting more specific about my medical details and doctors (gulp).

Previously on NHS/Baby Abroad blogs:  Part One: Having a Baby Abroad
                                                                      Part Two: Registration, Doctors, Midwives, etc.
                                                                      Part Three: NHS, midwives, home births.

* I've been able to reschedule every appointment time that didn't work for me with absolutely no problem here in the UK. Granted, my schedule is fairly flexible, but even when I needed to reschedule, I was able to.

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