Thursday, November 13, 2008

A healthy health service

Two elderly people were telling me recently of an experience they’d had last year when visiting their family here.

The 83-year-old husband had not been feeling too well for a few days so he went to the doctor waving his E111/EHIC form and saying “I’m an EU citizen - please treat me!”

As the doctor spoke perfect English language was not a problem. After an examination he said that he thought her husband had possibly, but only possibly, had some form of minor stroke and that it would be advisable to see a consultant neurologist for a brain scan just to be sure.

Obviously this was not good news and they asked the doctor if he could give them a letter so they could arrange for the scan and specialist examination when they got home.

After some seconds of confusion, the doctor said he meant here and now and he called the local hospital. When finished, he apologised profusely stating that it would not be possible to get the scan and examination today and that they’d have to wait until tomorrow.

As they left, his parting shot was to ask them if they needed free transport to the hospital.

The following day, having arrived and registered, within 10 minutes the husband was on the table having his scan. After it was finished, they were told results would be coming and they put on their coats and headed for the door.

“Where are you going?” asked the puzzled nurse.

When they said ‘home’ she replied “..but don’t you want to wait for your results – they’ll only be about 20 minutes”

Culture shock by this stage started to set in and they sat down. Service wasn’t perfect though because they in fact had to wait about 30 minutes before the consultant entered. Not only did he have hardcopies of the scans, but also a typed formal letter outlining his findings and recommendations. He talked them through everything and handed them copies of all the scans and of course his letter, asking them to pass onto the referring doctor.

In fact the news was good as there was no obvious indication of any problem at all.

It’s worth mentioning perhaps at this stage that this was a public not private health doctor and hospital. This sort of superb service is perhaps not the norm in all continental countries, but it isn’t that unusual either.

What is your experience of healthcare overseas?

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