Monday, March 28, 2011

Don't you love NHS?

It's been a while since I have offered any advice for anyone out there planning a move to London, so I thought I would share with you the unique pleasure that is registering with a London medical centre.

As it turned out, I hadn't yet had a chance to register with my local doctor since moving to the NW, due mainly to working 12 hours a day and general procrastination on my part! So when I got sick this week and needed to see a doctor I was faced with the joy of having to register and also make an appointment to see a doctor. So on Wednesday (after having to knock on my bosses bedroom door to tell them I couldn't work that see, I start work before they even wake up!), I made my way to the doctor (once again wishing I had a car!) to register. I waited in the queue for possibly 10 minutes before one of the four receptionists managed to look up from their desks and was given forms to fill in.

I returned the completed forms to the desk and was told to then complete a medical check at their Interactive Patient Pod, a DIY blood pressure / heart rate / weight check touch-screen-thingy. At this point, with my head all blocked up, struggling to breathe properly and feeling like I had been hit by a bus, I asked if someone could possibly show me how to use it, as I have never even come across one of these before. The receptionist barely looked up at me and said, "It's very easy to use" and returned to her computer (sorry to interrupt your Solitaire!).

The Interactive Patient Pod, located, helpfully, in the main waiting room in full view of every other person there, was not easy to use and took a further 15 minutes...and I still hadn't gotten anywhere near a doctor. Once all this was finally done, over an hour later, I was registered with the doctor. Hooray! Now to make my appointment...

Yeah, uh huh! Turns out you can't make an appointment until they have had a chance to check your details with your former doctor and anyway, they didn't have any appointments until at least Friday!

So, after stopping at the chemist for all the drugs they could give me, I jumped on the bus home, where I had the time to remember my previous life in a land that made sense (aka Australia!), where if you were sick you just went to the nearest doctor who would give you the drugs you needed no matter where you lived. Fair enough, you had to pay for it, but here where the NHS generously provides free medical care (well, doctors appointments at least!), they certainly make you pay in so many other ways.

So my advice to you who are planning the move to London, don't be like me and put off registering with your local doctor. But the best bit of advice I could give you is not to get sick in the first place!

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