A Private Affair

privateIn the UK, NHS doctors and consultants practising privately can be a contentious issue.

The usual arguments:

it costs the taxpayer £610,000 to train every doctor (based on newspaper reports), it’s a drain on resources, they’re trained at our expense in the UK then move abroad, you can book to see the exact same consultant privately within a week, rather than waiting six months on the NHS.

I admit, pre-MS, I thought the same, despite having had a step-father who was a doctor.

Now, I’m adding up the cost of my MS to the NHS:

  • The consultations with a neurologist
  • The Alemtuzumab treatments (plus overnight stays in hospital)
  • The appointments with the MS nurses
  • The appointments with the MS bladder specialist
  • Several trips to Accident and Emergency
  • The appointments with the neurology physiotherapists
  • The MRI scans
  • The blood tests (every months for five years after the last Alemtuzumab treatment)
  • The consultations with the thyroid specialist
  • The appointments with my GP

For this, I have paid nothing. Not a penny. I am not a tax payer right now – being a divorced, single parent for the last 15 years has meant low-paid jobs below the tax threshold but allowing me to be available 24/7 for my son.

So when I was concerned with how my MS was developing last year and, too impatient to wait for my NHS appointment several months away, I booked to see my neurologist privately. I don’t have money to burn – and my mum split the cost with me.

It was the best money I ever spent.

I had a whole hour to talk about everything. My neurologist simply does not have that time allotted to be able to do the same for every patient in the NHS. Say for example he has several thousand NHS MS patients on his books in South Wales. Not forgetting the other illnesses he specialises in. The figures just don’t add up.

Ultimately, I have only paid that sum for my treatment, in over three years. And for that, I am grateful. In the grand scheme of things, it is a truly insignificant amount to what I have received in return – thousands and thousands of pounds.

Since then, I wonder why more people don’t book in privately, at least once. And before they say it’s unaffordable, think about it. Add it up – we don’t know how lucky we are in this country.

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6 thoughts on “A Private Affair

  1. Judy Epstein says:

    Yes, the NHS is amazing. I just had a hysterectomy (no, not cancer), stayed in a private hospital in a private room, my own TV, got menus handed to me every day requesting what I’d like. It was my first time to have surgery and felt like I was on a surgery holiday… The NHS is a total blessing.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      It sure is, and I think we only realise it when something serious happens.
      The NHS has been nothing short of incredible towards me and pesky MS. To give me a treatment which gave me breathing space, well, I’m lost for words 🙂
      The NHS is, as you say, a blessing!

  2. LadywithMS says:

    I live in Australia, and so far (just over one year into my MS life) I have received amazing support through the public health system. I am particularly grateful for the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) which subsidises medications. Gilenya costs me very little here, for which I am thankful everyday.
    Yes, the public system has certain hassles and the wait lines can be long, but with MS I have found I can get in quite quickly if I am proactive and clear about what I want. I then use what I learn in the public system to see private specialists when and if I need to.
    Good luck to you. 🙂

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Very true – the keyword is definitely ‘proactive’. I think a lot of us forget it’s a two-way system; we need to be proactive with our health.
      Like me, I knew I would only stress for months about certain aspects of my MS and I didn’t want to hassle the NHS when they had already done so much, so it seemed a better solution to book in privately just for that one appointment.
      It takes something like MS to make us see just how incredible the NHS is!

  3. The NHS is amazing but it is sinking under the weight of its own efficiency and inefficiencies. Sadly I think there will be 2 layers before long, one that is free and one that will require payment.

    I’m very lucky because I see my MS consultant professionally away from the outpatients + I meet other consultants/specialists.

    I think people need to be more proactive in looking after themselves and not to be totally reliant upon the NHS for every little problem that happens.

    I think people are slowly waking up and realising that they have a responsibility as well.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Excellent point. I think a lot of us in this country are too quick to rush to the NHS. Every time I go for my Campath blood tests, I chat with people in the waiting room and a lot of them are simply there for things that a pharmacist could easily help with!
      We’re lucky here in South Wales too; there is a brilliant MS team and the staff couldn’t be better, from the neurologists to the MS nurses to all the other staff we see – bladder nurses, physios, etc.

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