By Lesley Keith
ONE thing I’ve used quite a bit since living here is the health service. I can’t speak for anyone else but my experiences have been excellent.
My UK GP was pretty good as surgeries go, an appointment could normally be arranged on the day you called. Mind you to achieve this you needed to call at the dot of 8am and keep trying repeatedly for approximately 30 – 60 minutes until you finally got through.
A doctor would then call you back to see if they could get out of giving you an appointment. Over here it seems you just walk in.
There’s two centres to choose from where I live and basically you just turn up, go in and see a doctor.
The first time I went I was surprised to see an old banger parked right outside with a scruffy bloke in a woolly hat, smoking a roll up, working on its engine. Rather inappropriate I thought but, hey ho, live and let live. I reported at reception and was told to report to door 10. No one else was about so as I sat down my name was called and I went straight in.
The doctor was the very same scruffy mechanic from outside! Well who cares about that, I was listened to, repaired and went off happily.
The next ill health experience was a visit to A&E at Inca hospital to check out a painful and bony lump growing on the back of my foot.
Now, my experience of UK hospitals is one of huge old ex-workhouses with peeling paintwork in city centres, expensive car parking, if indeed a space is available and endless hours of waiting on uncomfortable chairs. When finally seen, you either end up lying half naked in a public corridor with no knowledge of what’s happening or why, or alternatively you are sent away to be told an appointment with a specialist will be sent to you, which it is several weeks later.
Of course by then you are either dead or better. Inca hospital however is a new light and airy building just off the motorway. The A&E or ‘Urgencias’ is easily accessible and there’s a comfortable waiting room. Within five minutes of arrival I was called in to triage where they assessed the situation and sent me back to the waiting room. Another five minutes and I saw a doctor who said I needed an x-ray.
In fact the whole process from walking in the door, to being x-rayed and sitting discussing said x-ray with the same doctor and going home took less than 40 minutes. Incredible, surely this must have been beginners luck?
Well no, as I’ve been back both for me and for my partner and it’s the same every time, seen and sorted in under an hour.
Sadly my friend needed to be admitted recently and again I am amazed at the quality of the place.
For one thing there’s a large free car park on site plus the whole place is spotless and smells wonderfully fresh.
All wards are only two-bedded, with an ensuite bathroom no less. Every room has a door to an outside garden with a seating area with a mountain view!
You control the lighting and temperature and the food is hot and varied and delivered on time. Visitors can come at any time and stay as long as they want, overnight if necessary. A doctor visits every day and if you want to speak to the specialist they will visit you in your ward, you just have to ask.
Throw in a café that does take away food and coffee for visitors at very cheap prices and I think you’ll agree this is a health system with the patient in mind.
A far cry then from the multi-bedded, noisy, continually lit hell holes back in Blighty.
Visiting is 1 – 2 or 6 – 7, no exceptions and privacy is something you leave on the mat as you enter the doors.
A bathroom at the end of the ward shared by 12 or more people and no sign of a doctor unless there’s 6 or more students accompanying him.
No one relishes the idea of being in hospital but I have to say, if you could take away the fact that you have to be ill to stay in one I think I could handle it very well!