Let’s hear it for the NHS!

[No posts for weeks, then two within 24 hours!]


  • I knew for certain at breakfast that something was wrong with my left eye (I had had some warning signals in the week before).
  • At about 10 am I rang the my local health centre and asked if I could see a doctor –ideally that day. They said, would it be alright if a doctor phoned me?
  • At about 12 midday a doctor phoned, listened and asked if I could come to the health centre for 2.15 pm.
  • At about 3.30 pm I left the health centre with an outpatient letter for the local hospital  and an appointment for 6.30 pm in the emergency eye clinic.
  • At about 7 pm I saw a nurse for several tests and eye drops.
  • At about 8.15 pm I saw an opthalmic doctor. He had been on call since 7 am that day and there were more people waiting in the clinic
  • He listened patiently, examined my eyes with extraordinary thoroughness, going the extra mile to fetch lenses not immediately to hand.

I walked out of that hospital at about 9 pm knowing that I did not have a detached retina (serious, but repairable if caught quickly), but only a vitreous detachment, needing no treatment. This can occasionally turn into a detached retina, but I know what to look for and what to do now.

Our National Health Service is fast, efficient, kind and free at the point of demand – total cost of day £3.50 hospital car parking and a little patience. I slept well last night.

Thank you NHS!

This is a screenshot of a cartoon which one of you posted a while ago. I love it.Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 09.54.35

55 thoughts on “Let’s hear it for the NHS!

  1. Such a refreshing story – the opposite of the complaints one often hears about health care. I’m glad the eye condition turned out much better than you feared, and that you posted this story.

    • Thank you. I think this is the story of every day at the NHS, but no paper would find it exciting enough to tell. I heard many people yesterday saying thank you with real gratitude for the help they received. However, people will complain about trivial inconveniences – I heard some of them yesterday too.

  2. Sorry to hear about the eye but happy to hear it was not a retinal detachment. Those are no fun. And how nice to see a system like this can work. There are always naysayers, so it’s nice to hear something positive.

    • Thank you. I never really had time to get too worked up over what might happen to my eyes as I was taken care of so efficiently and with such reassurance. All is well now, though I am finding it strange to live with what looks like a spider continually in my field of vision. Like so many things, I will get used to it and it may eventually move into the periphery and be less obtrusive. In the grand scheme of things it is on the tiny side.

  3. I’m glad there was nothing too wrong. We have free healthcare too, excluding most people’s visits to a GP. But hospitals are free, and GP visits for children are free.

    • I was very lucky. I think the only thing you pay for here is prescriptions… but if you are a child, retired or below a certain income, these are free too. I fear our government is hankering after the American system so illness can become a source of profit for shareholders.

  4. I should have stuck with the public health system too, when I had a vitrectomy done a couple of years ago. The operation made my sight worse. It was done ‘private’ and all within 15 minutes in a luxurious hospital. You had a computor dangling above your bed on which you could chose your meal from a very extensive menu. The doctor ‘s advice was for an overnight stay in hospital
    On hindsight it was just a very expensive drawn out operation with every conceivable expense imaginable. If I had done it through the public system I would have walked in and out within a couple of hours.
    Australia seems to want to follow the US system. The result as often pointed out, is over prescriptions, over medicating and many case of unnecesary but expensive medical procedures.
    Sticking to free public health care is my option from now on. (and save money)

  5. Glad all worked out well, and good on the NHS. My mother had a detached retina and was very promptly dealt with and Husband had the same as you but in Spain.They were very efficient too and free thanks to our membership of the EU!

    • I remember how good the emergency medicine in Spain can be. Our daughter, aged four, fell and cut open her eyebrow. We ran with her to a small emergency clinic. They were already in scrubs, she was swiftly cleaned, stitched, given antibiotics (for adults, I noticed on the label!) and we were able to stay with her and hold her hand throughout. I was impressed at the speed of it, so that she didn’t have time to grow anxious and feel too much pain.

    • Sorry to hear about your mother. The last years of our parents are recent enough for me to remember those times. While nothing is perfect, I think the NHS does the best possible job given everything it has to cope with. I pray we can keep it as it is and not see it turn into a fat cats’ money pot, with the poor losing out on the treatment.

  6. I’ve never understood Americans’ objections to universal health care neither our own government’s hankering to follow them. My week-long stay in hospital after I broke my ribs which included a visit from an anaesthetist to put in an intervertebral block, cost me nothing. With me in pain and the The Husband suddenly back in charge of organising three teenage boys, worrying about how we were going to pay for it would have been the last thing we needed.

    So happy to hear the eye was not as bad as feared.

    • I agree, the American fear of universal healthcare is baffling. If they are ill, their first fear is about money. They spend so much of their lives juggling the sums involved in health insurance (my daughter is married to an American and lives in Chicago). Mind you, on our first visit to America, in the airport we heard a Fox News broadcast about the horrible and lethal experiences of sick people in England – so if Americans believe this, no wonder they’re afraid.

      • They’ll always find the stories that serve the agenda. Even here, waiting lists are used excuses to question the provision of free health care. They never share the stories such as that of my friend who got sick and needed a heart transplant. She got one, is living her life fully even if she has to take a mountain of drugs and it all cost her nothing. She couldn’t possibly have found the money if she’d had to pay and quite frankly would be dead.

      • I realize I get into a Pandora’s box by entering into this conversation, but as an American who has been treated well by a hospital and clinic when I needed care, and was not overburdened by cost, I will jump in and say: it’s not as simple as you make it, and we are wrestling with the problem here. Please start with the assumption that nothing is “free” because nothing is. If you are not paying, someone is. But you are probably paying in other ways. Secondly, the population of Australia is around 23 million, and the population of England is around 53 million. The population of the US is 318 million. Systems that work for a smaller sized group may not work at all for a much larger group…..the sheer bureaucracy of such a centralized system is awful to imagine. It is simplistic to always chalk things up to money-grubbing and greed; I think those are attributes pretty well distributed around the globe. We definitely have a problem with the so-called “health care” system (I would rather call it “sick care” and let individuals tend to their own health) but we’re working on it….we’re working on it….There will always be anecdotal evidence on both sides of the coin.

      • While it is true that ‘nothing is free,’ The medical system in Australia uses both, the private and public. In most European countries it is though higher taxes that the public system works best. Those taxes often include a social tax as well as an income tax.
        The problem in Australia and perhaps of the US as well, is that taxation or revenue raising is demonised and portrayed as being a bad thing.

        The proof is in the pudding. In Australia the private health system is being deserted by many now leaving, not being able to afford the premiums any longer.

    • Of course you are right Cynthia, nothing is simple and medical care has to be paid for by someone. The system in the NHS is that every person over 16 contributes the same amount weekly, this is taken at source from employers for every individual they employ and every self-employed person pays too. The government covers the contributions for every child, unemployed or disabled person. There are private clinics and hospitals, where you can pay vast sums for extra comfort and privacy, but these do not have the big research departments that make the NHS teaching hospitals so strong. I can see that America, which is a continent really, would have problems with one centralised system. I imagine individual states could run them if they wished. However (and maybe I’m wrong) I get the feeling that healthy Americans would resent paying continually into a fund that cared for poor or chronically sick people, and made no distinction between one of them and a big or average earner. The other difference in the NHS is that Medical care is not run as a profit-making exercise. There is certainly mismanagement, but the money is all used for paying for staff, drugs and equipment. There are no shareholders investing and being rewarded, so no incentive to charge fees that do not reflect costs. I think, as you suggest, that the difference is in outlook. For me, I worry that letting individuals look after their own health would seriously disadvantage the unlucky and those who start out with few resources. I would feel bad about that.

  7. You have stopped me in my tracks, with your “feeling that healthy Americans would resent paying continually into a fund that cared for poor or chronically sick people”… It shocks me that anti-American propaganda has brought things to such a pass, because it simply isn’t true–not about “American people”, or about what actually takes place in the health care system.

    • I’m glad to hear that I’m wrong. And I should not, of course, have made such a generalisation. It is not just anti-American propaganda, though, we get some Americans speaking for themselves directly on our screens – but I do accept that the D. Trumps of this world, do not reflect the majority… I do have a lovely son-in-law and his parents. His mother is a nurse and I hear much good about the hospitals she has worked in all her life.

  8. What were your symptoms? I have had slightly blurry vision the last month but have had my glasses checked twice.
    Glad it was nothing serious. Scary though huh? I was in hospital once for a week with an eye injury and suspected detached retina – but also healed up with time.

    • Hi Cinda, hope all is well with your vision now. Symptoms of the vitreous detachment are flashing lights on the periphery of vision (not everyone has these), followed in my case by a spider-like blot in my central eye – a very big ‘floater’ i.e. it moves with each saccade of the eye. The symptoms to watch out for (retinal detachment) are deterioration of the eyesight with flashing lights and a greyish curtain coming down over the vision in one eye, or a shower of brownish dots all at once. I’m fine now, but the spider in my eye is permanent, though it may sink to the edge of vision with time.

  9. What a wonderful tale, I imagine the positive outcome must be an enormous relief to you. I’m glad you were treated so well but it doesn’t surprise me. I, too, have had excellent experiences with the NHS. I hope future governments never lose sight of what a valuable resource it is and how worthwhile it is as an ongoing investment.

      • The English one was great fun, I was a little too loud and quirky I think, although George shared the accompanist prize which was great because he’s struggling at the moment to raise funds for his second year of his masters. I’m going to use the program I created for recitals too as the audiences respond well to it.
        The German comp I didn’t get through, but I like preparing for them because it gives me a deadline and target to aim for.

  10. Good to hear you’re better. To tell you the truth I always thought (and I’m not from the UK although I’ve lived there for quite a long time and have worked for the NHS for many years, but no longer) that the BBC and the NHS were things they should look after at all costs. I don’t think recently they are doing a good job of either (I left the NHS in part bored with bureaucracy and excessive concern with costs rather than anything else) and the problems with the junior doctors contract goes to prove that. If the system is still working at all is due to the dedication of the individuals but the cost-saving (cuts) exercises are bringing it to its knees. Of course times are very different from when the NHS started and the health problems and the sheer volume of population (and the costs of treatment and tests) have changed and increased dramatically. I can’t say I have an answer to it, but pretending there isn’t a problem for sure won’t help. Sorry. Didn’t mean to rant. (I’m in Spain at the moment and the public health system here is also facing similar issues)

  11. As a Nurse it’s nice to hear positive feedback on the NHS. Seeing as their too much media slagging off at the moment. So thank you

    • So glad this reached someone at the coalface. I wish everyone realised how precious the NHS is. Yesterday my daughter was right behind a bike accident and spent half an hour holding someone’s face together (London rush hour and the guy was conscious and breathing fine). The ambulance guys were brilliant, efficient and utterly reassuring once they arrived.

  12. Hi Hillary, I read your blog with interest, and wonder whether you might be interested in taking part in a research study I am conducting at University of Oxford. I have put some information below, and if you think it might be something you would like to participate in, my contact details are below.
    I am also interested in interviewing other people who read and comment on online blogs or tweets about health services experiences, so anyone else commenting here, do feel free to get in touch!
    I do hope this doesn’t feel like an intrusion, apologies in advance if it does.
    best wishes

    The INQUIRE project: Interviewing patients and the public who have used the internet to express their views about healthcare , or have read other people’s comments.

    • Have you ever read other people’s online comments or posts about their views or experiences of healthcare ?
    • Or perhaps you have posted or written about your own health or healthcare experiences online?
    • Are you 18 or over?
    We would like to find out more about how and why patients and members of the public have used the internet to express their views about healthcare , or read other people’s comments. We are interested in people’s use of a range of internet platforms e.g. Twitter, YouTube, blogs, health forums, patient feedback websites and NHS complaints forums

    If you have used the internet for this purpose, we would like to invite you to take part in an interview with one of our researchers. An interview will typically last between 45 minutes and one hour. A researcher could interview you at your home, or elsewhere if you prefer. Interviews may also take place by telephone or online if preferred.

    If you are interested and would like to find out more about what is involved please contact:
    Susan Kirkpatrick
    Email: susan.kirkpatrick@phc.ox.ac.uk
    Phone 07787 294170

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