“The NHS lets people die” and other insane misunderstandings

Posted on August 12, 2010 by yankeebean


I’m sure I’m not the only one who had heard the INSANE rumors flying around about the NHS…

As I write this post, I’m sitting in a waiting room waiting for my free every-three-years lady-screening. Not exactly my favorite past time, but at least I don’t have to pay for the stirrups.

As I’m waiting here, I was reminded how annoying (and sometimes impossible) it was to pay fort this kind of preventative medical stuff in the States.

After almost 7 years of living in the uk, I’m still nowhere near taking the NHS for granted. I freaking love the NHS…

But my main reason for this post is not to spark debate on if the NHS is pants or awesomeness.  It’s to you ask all you lovlies what kind of ridiculous questions you’ve been asked about socialized medicine.

Last week I got an email from a dear dear cousin of mine. It was short and to the point…

I wondered I’d you could tell me a little bit about your experiences with the UK health care system. Do they really let people die waiting in line to get treatment? Do they really practice euthanasia on old people? I’d really appreciate your views since you live there.

I was (needless to say) GOB-SMACKED to get an email like that – and I replied with my honest experience of the NHS and what I know to be true.

Has anyone else had any back-home-ers ask whoopty stuff like this??


Curious to know more? Why PeacefulYorkshire revels in free contraception on the NHS–Click here for another experience as an American lady in Britain.

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Nithya December 3, 2010 at 1:07 am

    I know I’m training to be a doctor and therefore incredibly biased but I am so bloody proud of the NHS. Yes, there are still a lot of problems but the important thing is that reviews and guideline changes are kept completely transparent and you can check every hospital’s rating in every area online for free AND you get to choose which hospital you’d like to be treated from! Sweet. I think it’s ‘cos I can tally up in my head how much stuff costs. Ambulance call outs cost £165, GP appoinments cost £50, consultant appointments in a clinic cost £150 and an overnight stay costs £225.

    I realise it’s annoying that there can be long waits for non-essential MRI scans and the like but it means that it’s streamlined for people who are in desperate need. I HATE that so much money gets wasted by people skipping appointments or crank calling ambulances though, it’d never happen if they’d laid out the cash for it and don’t think about how the money could be better spent elsewhere.

  2. Snoozepossum September 17, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Recent comments like these are probably being fueled by the current smear campaign against the health care bill and overhauling the health care and insurance systems here in the US. The people who want it all stopped, and for things to continue as they were, are spreading stories and soundbytes such as people dying while waiting in line, elder euthanasia, incompetence because “training standards in the UK are low”, and other tripe as evidence that socialized medicine is the ultimate evil.

    I haven’t found this to be true, but in my locale it’s become a comfortable lie that a lot of people prefer to believe instead of discovering they might be wrong. And when you dress it up as patriotism, it looks even better to them.

  3. Rachel August 17, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    So far, I’ve been nothing but impressed with the NHS when it comes to routine health issues and even more progressively, the aggressive management of issues such as blood pressure, weight, and asthma. It epitomizes preventative medicine. What has been a bit of an adjustment, though, has been in the diagnosis of an odd-ball skin issue I’ve been experiencing. In the US, I was on a PPO plan (read — you need no referrals to see a specialist — you just make an appointment directly) and therefore I know I’m spoiled beyond belief. I’ve lately been to the medical center quite a few times over the last few months. It seems like a ritual to get the “go home, take some paracetemol, and come back if it gets worse in a few days” before they’ll actually do anything for treatment. Overall, that seems like a wise approach, however I have to say there have been a couple of times I’ve wished they’d just given me the darned antibiotic cream on my first visit instead of the third. (Just keepign it real here.) It is only a minor complaint, though. The fact that I’m able to get an appointment so quickly, it is FREE, and even the minor surgery I had was FREE — it makes up for the rest.

  4. Yorkshire Yank August 15, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I actually get to see a GP quicker under the NHS than I did in the US with health insurance. Under the NHS, I call the surgery and see the GP the same day. In the US, I made an appointment and it could be a week or more before I saw a doctor.

    Also, as someone who has serious problems with her ladyparts, I love the fact that women who are having normal, healthy pregnancies are seen by midwives and not by gynaecologists. That means that women like me get to see gynos pretty quickly – we don’t have to wait months in a queue behind women who are pregnant and just getting themselves checked out but don’t have anything wrong with them. I have a shorter wait to see a gyno here than I did in the US.

    Yes, on the NHS you will have to wait to see a specialist, but you will have to wait under any system. The difference is that under the NHS, your wait is based on medical necessity, not on whether you or your insurance can pay for the procedure.

  5. Jana August 13, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    There are articles in the UK papers that do report on the bad happenings, high cost, various problems, etc. with the NHS, and people in the US read those papers (online)….. so relatives/friends are going to ask questions. The questions I get aren’t all that rediculous, considering my experience living here for 5 years. I don’t have a high opinion of the NHS – my freedom is severely restricted unless I want to go private (like most of the very rich here). I have felt more than once that I need to know how to “play the system” if I want things to go well, and if I don’t then I’m at the back of the queue, waiting and waiting.

    BTW, to “American teacher” – the dentists only clean your teeth that “need” it.

  6. American teacher August 13, 2010 at 12:38 am

    Ha! I love the NHS as well. My sister asked me, more than once, if dental work is done under the NHS. When I replied that I didn’t know…only some things, she exclaimed that it was no wonder why the Brits have such horrible teeth (blatent stereotype that I mildly corrected her on). I’ve only been once to the dentist on the NHS (I do love American dentists) and it had a clear fee paying guide and it only covered some procedures I think. I think I went to a dodgy one though, I’m sure other dentists warn you before they prick you and make your gums bleed…

  7. dyana August 12, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    it easily takes months in the US for a consultant referral. had to wait about 6 weeks myself. after which the scary problem had abated and i was told to come back when it happened again. scary!!

    but family wise? though they may like spouting crap heard off certain shock personalities, they don’t talk to me about it. they know i work for the nhs, and have no qualms about setting their misinformation straight given even half a chance. the nhs is not perfect, but it’s a damn site better than private ins as practiced in the US.

  8. Mud August 12, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Having just come out of hospital in Singapore (insurance based system) I have to say I was missing the NHS. Not that the Singapore care wasn’t excellent, but the constant payment discussions, delaying treatment until a bill was paid etc was an unpleasant shock! Suddenly the money came to the fore….

  9. Iota August 12, 2010 at 9:14 am

    As a Brit in the US, I do get asked this kind of stuff quite regularly.

    A nurse told me it was scary thinking about socialised medicine, because don’t you have to wait months to see a doctor? I dismissed her fears, but then when I thought about it later, I thought she maybe had a point. Not for a GP visit, but for a hospital consultant, it can be months.

    But like you, I LOVE the NHS.

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