National Healthcare Services, aka NHS. I won’t lie before coming to London I was scared of NHS. It’s taken me four months to make it to the local GP to sign up – thanks in part to a fellow American I met here and encouraged me that the system provided good service and was easy to use.
Last week I meandered down to the clinic to sign up (yes, I got slightly lost but it’s only a 10 minute walk from my place, so I knew where I was…so I don’t believe your technically lost if you know where you are). Ten minutes, a passport check (any ID would work), and a proof of address later, I was signed up. Next step schedule my “new patient” appointment. The clinic is open 8:00am-8:00pm, seven days a week – making it very easy to find a slot that works.
Fast forward two days and I was back for my new patient appointment. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, although Pete had warned me that a urine sample would be requested (I’ve had some pretty bad experiences getting “piss” tested in college (and yes I passed with flying colors…if that’s possible) – thank you NCAA). Sign in with a computer that asks your preferred language, sex and birth date – then wait. A monitor is flashing messages and I quickly noticed that it was also “calling” patients. Soon enough my name appeared “Miss Annie-Claire (for the record my name is actually Annie-CLARE but the US government spelt my name wrong on my passport and I haven’t had time to get it corrected…yet. I will when I change my name to Gray) Pease to Room 3”. Ok…now where is room three. Being as intuitive as I am, I quickly found room three. Open the door and the doctor was sitting waiting for me. The appointment was very straight forward, lifestyle questions, family history, height, weight, etc. Done.
I headed back this week for a follow-up appointment, well to get a prescription refilled. Easy-peesy…a few questions and then the doctor printed my prescription. I was in and out in 20 minutes…not bad for a 6:30pm appointment.
Overall, good experience. As for system as a whole, I don’t like that you don’t see the same doctor. I like that. I’ve been seeing my doctor in Maine for 10 years. I like that she knows my name and a little about me. The whole system had a little bit of a conveyor belt feeling but I guess that is what is required if you are providing healthcare to an entire country for free. I am very fortunate in the fact that I also have private insurance, so if I really can’t stand the thought of seeing a random doctor I can use my private insurance to go to anyone I want. Thanks to Obama-Care I also have healthcare in the US…so I can continue to see my doctor in Maine.