Everyone’s personal experiences may be different, but throughout my time in Australia, I have had nothing but praise for the Aussie medical system.
From check-ups to childbirth, from physios to pharmacies, from medical centres to MRIs, I unintentionally managed to achieve a good level of exposure to ‘the system’ (especially the physio bit) and have to say that I was extremely satisfied.
It seemed that whatever treatment I required for myself or my family was readily accessible when we needed it and, what’s more, the quality of the medical facilities was first class.
Maybe I was just lucky, or maybe I lived in an area that was particularly well catered for, but I never saw evidence of any of those Sydney Daily Telegraph-style hospital horror stories we seem to read about with morbid regularity.
Late last year as we first started to think about our return to the UK, we found it hard to avoid making comparisons – evaluating what might be better and what we might end up struggling to cope with in our new life.
The public health system certainly fell into the latter category in terms of ‘things to worry about’.
And given the media coverage, that reaction is quite understandable. From afar, you could be given to believe that the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is in disarray.
Funding cuts, industrial disputes, overworked and underpaid medical professionals….the picture according to the media is a pretty gloomy one.
However, based on those low expectations, my personal experience thus far has been an extremely pleasant surprise.
Although I have only been back in the UK for a few months, I have so far had several reasons to sample the NHS, ranging from standard Doctor consultation/prescription, to X-rays, to childbirth plus the whole hoopla surrounding that momentous event.
And you know what? I have been very impressed by everything I have come into contact with so far.
The facilities, which I was expecting to be quasi-Dickensian, have instead been modern and efficient.
The health professionals have been exactly that. Professional, but also with a strong personal touch – caring, human and sometimes even leavened with a touch of humour.
And the service levels have been excellent. People calling to follow-up when they said they would, results being available on time, midwives coming to our house on a regular basis.
Now, again I understand that my situation may not be representative of everyone else in the UK and there may be uncertain times ahead for the NHS, but I’d rather place at least some store on personal experience, rather than slavishly accept as gospel the doom-laden reports I read in the Daily Mail or The Guardian.
And on that basis, I am pleased to say that our initial health service-based concerns have thus far proven to be unfounded.
Or as an insurance adviser said to me the other day – “you probably don’t need private health cover since you already have it. It’s called the NHS”.