Thursday, October 23, 2008

National Health

Being diagnosed as having cancer is not going to be the high spot of anybody’s life time but, if it has to happen, it might be as well to have it happen in France.
Having felt under the weather for some time, I went to see my local doctor. He earns about half the salary of a British GP, works longer hours, makes house calls and always seems to be able to fit in a same-day appointment.
After examining me, he says I need to see a specialist and he then calls the local hospital.
“When would I like an appointment? Would tomorrow be OK?”
These are words that I understand are seldom, if ever, heard in the British National Health Service.
So at ten the next morning I am at the hospital. By 10.05 I am being examined by the doctor who says that he will need to perform an endoscopy. When would that be convenient for me?
We consult diaries and pick a date a couple of days off. He then says that I will need to be examined by the anaesthesiologist. When? Oh, right now.
A few minutes later I am given an ECG and a check-up by this gentleman who pronounces me fit enough for his side of the business. I’m out by just after eleven.
On reporting to the hospital at eight in the morning I’m shown to my room, 201. This has two beds, an en-suite bathroom, TV and bedside direct dial telephones (there’s a small charge for these). It looks like a modern motel room with extra plumbing.
Following the operation and a short time in recovery, I’m back in room 201 by eleven. A procession of nurses troop in and out, usually to ask “Ca va?” or to check my blood pressure.
When the consultant appears, unfortunately it is with bad news. I will need to make a return appearance. He arranges the appointment on the spot and it is later confirmed in writing.
My treatment will start immediately.
I understand that UK doctors are being rewarded for not sending patients to hospital.
I wonder how I would be placed had my doctor accepted such a bribe?

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