Someone from across the pond asked me to explain how hospitals etc work in this country.
That's a jolly good question.
I can only answer very simply. SIMPLIFIED OK? and only what I think. I might be writing complete rubbish!
Well for a start we don't pay anything at the point of use for being in an NHS (National Health Service) hospital or seeing a NHS doctor. This is because in theory we've all paid National Insurance Contributions and Taxes through our working life which covers costs. This worked fine when the proportion of elderly people NOT working and not paying NIC was less than the amount of people working and when there were no expensive treatments available to treat things like cancer.
Now it doesn't work so well, there isn't enough money going into the NHS, no political party dare raise NI. Although each government always says that THEY'VE put more money into the NHS than any other previous government of the OTHER party - Funny That.
Prescriptions and medications are also free for over 60's and many other people - cancer patients included. Otherwise people pay a set amount (£8.60 at the mo)for each thing prescribed. Maybe it covers costs - maybe not. It's possible to get 3 or 12 month pre-payment cards which work out lots cheaper.
People are living longer with more complex health problems and hospitals are always busy. Accident and Emergency departments are often overstretched not helped by it becoming increasingly difficult to see a local doctor at short notice. Also not helped by the amount of people who turn up at A & E with minor rather than life threatening issues.
Another huge problem is "Bed Blocking" this is when someone is well enough to go home but needs a care package put in place for them to be looked after at home by District Nurses, Carers etc. Because of funding cuts it takes longer for Social Services to organise this. Someone we spoke to at Addenbrookes said there are usually 60 - 80 people who could go home each day but have to stay in hospital until things are organised for them.Why funding cuts to Social Services? - which I think are paid for out of a local authority money - because they've been given less? Get less from local taxes? Heavens knows.
There is Private Health Insurance that some people have, so they can go to private hospitals. I have no idea about the Whys and Wherefores or how much specialised treatment people can get privately, so can't comment more. A lot of people think this government would like everyone to pay private insurance and that all NHS services would be phased out. I have no idea, I suppose they are right they might be wrong, who knows.
No doubt comments will say..................
Hospitals are run by Trusts, they have so many government targets to reach that people say that too much time is spent on chasing targets. there are too many 'pen pushers' and not enough people on the wards. I don't know how hospital Trusts work but someone will say in comments I'm sure. I do know that, as in many other areas, a lot of work is contracted out to private companies not always an improvement but supposedly a cheaper way of doing things. ( It certainly wasn't cheaper or better for the people who do the work in what was Suffolk County Council Highways Dept. which is the area we do know about)
What I DO know is that our doctors, where we are registered is 4 miles away, it seems to work OK. Haven't used it much in the year we've been here because all Col's care is from hospital and "touch wood" I've been well all year. We can ask for repeat prescriptions online and there has only been a problem once when I've gone a few days later to pick them up. It's the same practice we used when we lived in Mid Suffolk in the 1980's (although the doctors are different obviously!)
If we need referral to hospital for anything our hospital for East and Mid Suffolk is Ipswich and then Addenbrookes when things get even more serious. Ipswich hospital works closely with Colchester hospital mainly because Colchester was classed as a failing hospital a few years ago and the Top Bod of Ipswich is now Top Bod of Colchester too. There was lots of talk about having to centralise some services to Colchester from Ipswich but I don't know if that is/will be happening.
I really don't know if that's the information folk wanted to know but I do know that from our point of view the NHS is wonderful - I have nothing but praise for the nurses and doctors who all work so hard in increasingly difficult circumstances.
I await comments! But won't reply to any!