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.