An Opinion of the NHS - UK's National Health Service
In the UK we have a "free health service" that we call the NHS (National Health Service). I have visited a combination of public/private hospitals in China, Philippines, France and UK either as a patient or accompanying a patient and have witnessed varying degrees of competencies and expenses for medical treatment. I have also twice been told to NOT pay in Philippines, once in private and once in a public hospital (where doctor's time is anyway supposedly free).
I have also witnessed how hard it is for people who cannot afford treatment in countries where medical care is not easily accessible (some just die) and heard stories from various sources of free hospitals preferring to kill off patients because it is cheaper than mending them.
All of this makes me feel that the FREE NHS of UK should be really highly valued, and I agree.
However, the NHS is not actually "free". Something we tend to overlook in the UK is that a portion of our taxes actually goes towards the NHS. This money could instead be used to pay for private health insurance. Most people can't actually afford private health care and don't take out a health insurance policy because they have already paid their NHS (NI) contributions so tend to rely on the NHS.
This sounds great, doesn't it and it is. I believe the NHS saved my life during my first few months alive, got me through an MRI scan and such when I was 16 and in my 20s, when I broke my arm, the hospital did give me an x-ray and reluctantly wrapped plaster around my arm and I was even entitled to one fifteen minute appointment for rehab when the plaster came off, all covered by my payments, therefore apparently free. That was very convenient, much more convenient than my other bad experiences where I was not able to gain any kind of access to the NHS. I know several other people who have also had bad experiences with accessing the NHS but could not really go private because of the excessive costs involved, so WE suffered, either through not receiving appointments, treatment or operations.
I do not want to go into the long list of personal experiences I/friends have had as some people do not value a small number of personal experiences as much as a large number of experiences found in print, so I am going to share other REAL PEOPLE'S comments from around the web:
It is very interesting to look at the headings, dates and sources of the comments and to see how other people react to those comments. This is a useful exercise when looking for any information, to at least look at various sources and the details of those sources. Rest assured, these are not isolated incidents or excusable by pointing to a particularly bad year in history: the sources/dates are various and the list of troubles is endless.
These people have paid for a service that they are not receiving. Imagine paying money to a private hospital who then refuse to let you see a doctor when you need one or refuse to book an operation for you. When you hear this you may imagine that the patient didn't really need to see the doctor or didn't need the operation; just take my word for it that in the cases I know about, they did need it. How would you feel about that if it was you?
It is frustrating and we need to recognise that there are big problems within the NHS that need to be looked at and resolved. In my view, simply throwing more money at it and imagining that the money will magically run around making decisions and fixing things by itself is NOT the solution...
I am not saying that the NHS is bad, not at all. Allow me to save you from posting good news stories: it actually does a lot of good for many people, but, it is also DOES NOT serve MANY people the way it is supposed to, considering that they ARE paying for a service that they are not receiving. This is not a small number of people and although I don't know the percentage we comprise, we are certainly not an insignificant or exception to the rule.
In the meantime, until the NHS sorts out its problems, it is very difficult to use it fairly as a political tool to win votes with, as some political entities are attempting to do.