Monday 18 May 2015

Wicked tories, part 2

The wicked tories, destroying the NHS. But let's examine this with some numbers. Look at the graphs.

The black line is the level of satisfaction, and the time span is about three decades. The peak is 2013. If you follow the link above, you'll see the graph more clearly.

I hear slogans such as "compassion not profit" and "don't sell the NHS". But what does that mean? Here's my recent experience.

A year or so ago, I went for my regular eye test. I used to go to an optician in Amersham, Dollond and Aitchison, a private company. But it was still an NHS service, and free (although if you wanted snazzy frames, you paid extra), and I guess the NHS paid the company for the services that were provided free. Then that company were bought by Boots. So I went there recently for a retest, but they told me to come back the next day, and I didn't. Instead, I went to another place in Little Chalfont; nearer to where I live. It was still a private company running the shop, it was still free.

The found a problem. My sight was just as good as previously, but I had high pressure in my left eyeball; so high that it needed to be dealt with.  They tried to get me an appointment at Stoke Mandeville (an NHS hospital), but they were busy, and couldn't see me for a long time. The optician told me that my condition shouldn't be ignored; the high pressure would damage the ocular nerve if left untreated. And, by the way, this is why it's a really good idea to have your eyes tested every two years, even if you dn't wear glasses. It's free, because NHS.

So I went to Marylebone Eye Hospital (NHS-run). They saw me on the same day, and tested my eye, confirming that I have ocular hypertension, which can lead to glaucoma. Bummer.
They gave me some drops, to start using immediately, and made an appointment for follow-up treatment and even more testing.

That was with "The Practice" which is a PLC that runs over 50 GP surgeries. I attended my appointment, they confirmed my condition, and told my usual GP at Water Meadow surgery, which meant that I could pick up repeat prescriptions for my eyedrops from a convenient place. This is an NHS practice (I think). But inside their building, they have a pharmacy, which is a private company. I get my prescriptions free (because of the NHS, and because I'm over the age that gets free prescriptions).

A couple or months ago, I went back to The Practice, they tested my ocular pressure, and it's looking good, down to normal, although I have to continue putting a drop in my eye each morning, which isn't a problem, really.

So, as you can see from this story, my experience of medical care is that it's a mixture of NHS-funded and private companies. If The Practice makes a profit out of their activities, I say good for them, they seem to be doing a good job. Likewise the pharmacy at Water Meadow. The opticians, doctors and pharmacists that I've seen are uniformly decent people who are trying to do a good job at what they do. I don't feel that any of them, at any time, was interested in squeezing extra profit out of me rather that helping with my minor eye condition.

And that's why I don't feel that if some elements of our healthcare are catered by private companies, that this is a bad thing.

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