Four Month Wait for Blood Test in Brits’ Government Health Care

(p. 6) Founded in 1948 during the grim postwar era, the National Health Service is essential to Britain’s identity. But Britons grouse about it, almost as a national sport. Among their complaints: it rations treatment; it forces people to wait for care; it favors the young over the old; its dental service is rudimentary at best; its hospitals are crawling with drug-resistant superbugs.

All these things are true, sometimes, up to a point.
. . .
Told my husband needed a sophisticated blood test from a particular doctor, I telephoned her office, only to be told there was a four-month wait.
“But I’m a private patient,” I said.
“Then we can see you tomorrow,” the secretary said.
And so it went. When it came time for my husband to undergo physical rehabilitation, I went to look at the facility offered by the N.H.S. The treatment was first rate, I was told, but the building was dismal: grim, dusty, hot, understaffed, housing 8 to 10 elderly men per ward. The food was inedible. The place reeked of desperation and despair.
Then I toured the other option, a private rehabilitation hospital with air-conditioned rooms, private bathrooms and cable televisions, a state-of-the-art gym, passably tasty food and cheery nurses who made a cup of cocoa for my husband every night before bed.

For the full commentary, see:
SARAH LYALL. “An Expat Goes for a Checkup.” The New York Times, Week in Review Section (Sun., August 8, 2009): 1 & 6.
(Note: the online title is “Health Care in Britain: Expat Goes for a Checkup.”)
(Note: ellipsis added.)

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