NHS

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.

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