Please excuse the rambling: I just wanted to big-up the NHS.
I just got back this morning from a tonsillectomy and overnight observation - I've never felt so very, very professioanlly cared for. We all know there are horror stories - often blown out of proportion by the press - but start-to-finish this has been a superb experience.
They were very accomodating with the appointment (so I didn't have to take time off work) and the new booking system for surgery really impressed me. No lenthy waiting list, either!
The food was good, the bed comfortable and well appointed with a good view (albeit over Torbay Hospital car park), and every single member of staff was polite, capable, proficient and good humoured.
For those of you not in the UK, the NHS is the National Health Service. I know socialised healthcare is becoming more of an inflammatory issue in the US, and by no means do I wish to get all political here, but in my 29 years the 'free' healthcare from the NHS has never once failed to impress me, so I thought I'd share some positive stories, below:
My wife - from Chicago - loves the fact that her entire pregnancy ordeal is free throughout; free prescriptions for a year afterwards too. This was brought home recently by a successful friend of hers in California who jokingly suggested selling his newborn daughter in order to pay the medical fees: it hadn't even struck me that such things had to be paid for. Of course, his medical insurance will help him out, but he still needs to find the cash up-front.
My father-in-law - self-employed - can't afford to retire for the foreseeable future, because at 63 he's still footing extensive medical bills for severe back and knee injuries he received in a chopper crash way back in the 60s with the USMC [I do mean severe, too: in the last decade he's had 3(!) knee replacements, two vertebrae removed and had to have his spine rebuilt].
(Incidentally, after his first knee replacement shattered whilst visiting us over here, causing him immense pain, he was pleasantly surprised to receive free advice and a stack-load of freebie painkillers from our helpful local pharmacist. Normally, any prescription costs no more than £6.50, unless it's normally sold more cheaply. That's a blessing.
My wife's half-sister, when she first visited as a 13-year-old a few years ago, got bad earache on the plane, and refused to let us take her to the doctor, worried that her up-tight mum would be angry with her if she found out we'd spent money on a visit to the GP. If I never again hear a child worried about the incurred expense of seeing a doctor when he or she is ill or in pain, I shall die happy. That should be a given.
My late mother had a defibrillator installed (if 'installed' is the right word!) in lieu of a pacemaker. It cost £35,000 at the time - way more than my parents earned between them in a year - and with all the fantastic treatment she got for three years it didn't cost a penny beyond what we all pay in Tax and National Insurance.
In comparison to this, our beloved hound, Cadfael, had to have a couple of lumps removed back in June, and it cost over £350. I had to pay that up front before I could claim most of it back on his pet insurance, less the premium. That left a real dent, and I dread to think how I could find the money for anything more costly...or human...
I know the system isn't perfect; I know it has its detractors, and of course some other countries do it way better than us. I also know it's by no means actually free...but Man, I love the security of the NHS.
PS: This means I'm officially convalescing for two weeks whilst my throat mends, so hopefully I can get some good painting done!
Thanks for your time, as ever,