Sunday, September 09, 2007

Braving the Dreaded National Health Service UK

Braving the Dreaded British National Health

A couple of weeks ago in Edinburgh, I fell and scraped my knee. I week later the little abrasion had become large, red, puffy, and sore. I wanted someone to look at it, but I was still in the UK. Not only was I in the UK, I was in small-town England. Bury St. Edmunds is a charming, historic market village in East Anglia, but not exactly a medical hub. Still, my knee needed looking after.

The hotel manager told me there was a doctor’s office next door, so with trepidation, (I’d heard the horror stories about long waits and grim conditions) I ventured in. A receptionist told me I’d be seen by a nurse practitioner who specialized in abrasions, asthma treatment, and other chronic conditions. Apologizing, she said she’d have to charge me fifty pounds since I wasn’t registered on National Health.

After waiting in a pleasant waiting room for all of seven to ten minutes, I was greeted by a friendly, efficient nurse who bandaged my knee with a waterproof surgical dressing and asked if I was otherwise in good health. My husband mentioned I have asthma. She gave me advice on how to manage it and a booklet (not an advertisement from a drug company) but a manual published by the National Health Service NHS with clear information on how to manage asthma along with a card to carry in your wallet, outlining a treatment plan, and phone numbers including the Asthma UK Adviceline available from 9 to 5 with interpreting service in more than 100 languages and a 24 hour nurse-led helpline for all medical inquiries along with websites and further information.

We were out of there and on our way in half an hour and I’m happy to report my knee is fine.

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