Friday, December 16, 2011

Why the NHS sucks, reason #183.

If you are British or live in the UK and are a fan of the NHS, please don't get offended by this post. There are some good things about the NHS. Its simplicity and relative ease of use. I do enjoy going to the doctors office and not worrying about filling out forms or calling the insurance to see if I am covered or not having to hand out my credit card at the end of treatment. But,
That's about where my praise of it ends.

This has been on my mind since Georgia is sick. She work up last Thursday (8 days ago) with a croup cough at 10pm. She had been completely fine all day. It was a rough night, with her sleeping in our bed, me sleeping on the floor in her room, and then for the majority of the night, I held her in the rocking chair so that she could sleep.

I called when the doctors office opened and made an appointment for Georgia. The doctor we saw basically said that Georgia was "fine". She didn't have any symptoms at the time, but she prescribed a low dose steroid for her to take based on my description. Dave went and picked it up (not paying anything, presumably because Georgia is a child and they have free prescriptions) and we gave it to her. Friday night was a bit better than Saturday night. Her cough wasn't quite as bad, and Dave was able to help hold her since he didn't have to work on Saturday.

When we woke up on Saturday morning, we soon realized that Georgia wasn't herself. She was having trouble getting enough air to breathe. Her heart was racing and she was breathing heavily an quickly. She had a fever and was pale with bright red cheeks. We went to the A&E (ER) where they gave her another steroid and ibuprofen and paracetamol (tylenol) to help lower her fever.

Sunday she seemed sick, but her cough was better and her breathing was normal. Monday she slept 18-19 hours. Even when she was "awake", she was still very much out of it and not herself. I'd lay her down in her crib, and she wouldn't make a peep. If I sat down while holding her, she would fall asleep within 30 seconds. Meanwhile, she wasn't eating or drinking much. She'd have a few bites here and there, and thankfully she was still nursing.

Tuesday came and she began vomiting. She refused any liquids (including breastmilk) and didn't want any food. I took her to the doctor. The doctor I saw gave me a lot of attitude. Basically I was over-reacting and she was just sick. She was still alert and looking around (yes, my child is an extravert!), so obviously she was fine and not dehydrated. After interrupting me several times, he basically said that she had croup and of course she's not going to get better overnight!

Tuesday night I thought that Georgia was starting to be dehydrated. I googled it. She had basically every symptom for moderate dehydration. She had lost 8-9% of her body weight, she hadn't been drinking anything, very little pee, dry lips, irritable, etc. I went to the drug store to look for pedialyte (or some sort of rehydration solution for kids). I explained to the chemist what I needed and she said they couldn't give it to me. I'd have to have a prescription or a child over the age of two. On the box it says for ages 2 and up, therefore they can't give it to me. (Stupid government regulations!)

Wednesday brought another doctors appointment. I saw another doctor (3rd one in a week) and he was a bit more sympathetic. He agreed that she was ill and not doing well, but didn't really offer any help. He just suggested that we watch for urine every 8 hours.

Now it is Friday. Georgia is still not eating (much). She had a couple bites of my toast. She still has diarrhea and because she's lost so much weight, her diapers aren't fitting well. Every-time she pees or poops it leaks out (her skinny legs and non-existent tummy) Yesterday she had 2 wet diapers. One was at 8am and one at 4pm. She had another at midnight and one at 11am this morning. Definitely dehydrated. She is unbelievably cranky and irritable. She is weak (not eating for 8 days) and has trouble pushing buttons on some of her toys and will just fuss and whine until I come help her.

And this is where the NHS sucks. Money speaks. I don't pay anything to see the doctor here. They have no motivation to treat me kindly or to give helpful suggestions or to even spend more than 5 minutes with me. They get paid the same amount whether I am happy or not. I can chose to go to another doctor, but it won't do me any good. This is one of the big failures of the NHS. In the US, of course it is expensive to go to a good doctor! That is because they are GOOD! You pay for their services. You want the best doctor (you can afford) so you will find them. If they don't treat you well or you are not happy you will take your money and go elsewhere. Here, there is no incentive (at least none that I know of) for a doctor to be the best that they can be.

I am really tired of going to the doctors office to have my concerns ignored. I am not someone who overly worries about things, and I really do think that having a daughter pee only twice in one day is a major concern. But, I'll wait another day or two because she's not "lethargic" enough and her extrovert personality will convince the doctor that she really is "ok". Until then, I'll continue on, doing laundry and trying to force liquids into Georgia, hoping that she will get better without another trip in to see the doctor.


andrea said...

It does suck, and it always bothered me that they had no pediatricians in the UK unless there was a major problem. Do you guys have private insurance?

Dave and Andrea said...

We just cancelled our private insurance last week! We didn't really think it was work the 1000's of dollars we're paying for it. We can pay out of pocket for things if we need to, and will get traveler's insurance when going home.

Yeah... it would be nice if we had a pediatrician or at least a doctor who knew who you were!

kate wallace said...

Oh no! I am so sorry Andrea! Poor Georgia!

Carrie Troyer said...

I'm so sorry Andrea. Having a sick baby is the worst. So scary. We're praying that she feels better soon and that if you have to visit another doctor that God would provide one who will really be of help. Keep us updated!

Andrea, said...

That sounds so frustrating. I think the pharmacy situation seems so odd when so much is available over the counter here and no one asks any questions. I hope she is doing better.

Anonymous said...

Hey, sorry to read about your experience. I'm British and have used healthcare services in most of Europe but none compare to the UK in terms of quality and cost.

What I cay agree with is that doctors do suck here, they often give tablets where as other countries would give an IV into the arm which would sort the problem out within a few hours. It helps to find a good doctor, so it is trial and error. Two doctors near where Iive are good, the rest are awful.

Private insurance costs just £12 a month here in some cases, look into it on compare the market website.