British Lung Foundation
35,402 members42,773 posts

Is the NHS really that bad?

I don't know how many of us can say we have never complained or been irritated by either the care we receive or the length of time we have to wait to be seen or receive treatment, I know I cant.

Last night, I watched a documentary and there was something in it that made me think an awful lot since then as to just how lucky we all are to live in the UK.

It was based in the States and there was a lady who was in her 40's, previously in good health but she fell and broke her ankle.

She needed surgery to repair the ankle but she did not have insurance and did not have the means to pay for the surgery.

Her boyfriend had no choice but to just take her home. She was completely immobile due to her badly broken ankle and through a sequence of events from that accident, she died.

It was thinking about that which made me realize just how lucky we actually are in this country. She did not live in a third world country, she lived in one of the richest countries in the world and one that brags about the state of the art medical care.

Can any one of us imagine falling and breaking an ankle and turning up in A & E and being refused the treatment we needed so that we would be able to walk again.

Oh, we all have to wait more than a week for our routine Dr's appointments but I know if I have ever needed urgent care, I have always got it when I needed it.

How many of us could imagine having an exacerbation and being refused a chest x ray or CT scan or any test or treatment because we cant afford to pay for them.

From my GP appointment about my shortness of breath, I had chest x ray and spirometry and had all that done and was diagnosed within 2 weeks and we also had new year in the middle of that.

Even my achilles problem, I went to the Dr's with it and I see the physio for diagnosis tomorrow, a total of 6 working days after my GP appointment. If I were in the US, if I didnt have insurance, I would be up the creek without a paddle.

How many of us, with our health problems are unable to work and therefore would not be able to afford insurance, that would mean we simply would not be treated.

It scared me that in 2013, a young woman ends up dead and for no other reason than she was left to rot because she did not have the money to pay to have her broken ankle operated on.

There are many faults with the NHS, sometimes serious mistakes are made and there are times that legitimate complaints should be made. I, in the past have made a complaint myself. Mistakes are made in the States too, probably just as many mistakes as are made in the UK

But on the whole, I consider myself lucky to live somewhere that no matter what is wrong with me, I will get the care I need and not what care I can afford.

I like our NHS, warts and all!



20 Replies

I agree that it must be much better to have the nhs than not. of course there are mistakes as in any practice, and people who make those mistakes whether the treatment is free or paid for, but overall I vote for the nhs anytime.


I agree, I have no complaints about the NHS. True that sometimes I've had to wait when I get to hospital, but from Doctors to specialist has always been quick and I've always been treated well. I have seen a documentary about the health service in the States maybe the same one, one lad was refused treatment and stitched his own leg up.

Lib x


We are so lucky to have the NHS and that is wy we should strive to keep it. I for one would be long gone if it did'nt exist. Its incredable that someone can die of a broken ankle in the good old US of A, because they cannot pay, It totally stinks. The NHS would be fine if they gave more power to the people who use it. We could soon weed out the few bad apple's that give it a bad name because we know who they are. 'simple's en it'


Health care in the U.S. with health insurance is good. Health care with no health insurance and you're under 65 years old is nonexistent. Even with health insurance there is always a co-pay, so you end up paying something for meds, doctors, tests and hospital treatment. Oh .. and then the health insurance company sets maximums for treatment in your area, so if your doc charges more than what the insurance company thinks he or she should charge, you pay the excess. And then of course the insurance company can decide that the med your doctor prescribed aren't warranted for your condition, so then they will not pay either.

In comparison, the NHS is brilliant. Far from perfect, but still better than the alternative. I had a hospital stay about 6 years ago that was awful. Feces spread around the sink in the patients' shared bathroom for more than 24 hours. Put you off the food, which was just as well considering it was awful too. Medical treatment itself, perfect.

Privatisation of NHS services is IMO a disaster. Community health care in my area is in the hands of Virgin, meaning even though the consultant requested support for my husband he (the consultant) is completely ignored.


I agree, we should be grateful we have the NHS. I do not agree with privatisation of this service.However I do feel we should allow negotiation with other companies to obtain the best quality of care in the most cost effective way. I also feel that if the service is at fault then the patient should have the right to expose the faults without fear of recrimination and employees ought to be transparent and try to rectify or improve any problems inherant within the service, if possible. After all the NHS as always been the envy of the world, why shouldn't it remain so?


I think we have some good, and some very bad care in the NHS, I'm afraid. Just read up about the huge failings at Stafford hospital, where hundreds of older people have died unnecessarily. As recently as last week, a baby was found with a dummy taped into its mouth.

Lynne xx


There are those on the NHS who are worthy of great respect and as in any other walk of life there are those who are not. I, like most people on this site have happily contributed national insurance contributions - in my own case from 15yrs old to 60 years old on retiral.

The way I try to look at it is I was lucky to have lived in an era where the NHS was in place and lucky not to have had to make too much use of it well not until the last six years since I was diagnosed. I am now of the opinion that I was specially lucky that work was more plentiful during that era and that those contributions were put to greater use then than in recent years and also have that sinking feeling that things are deteriorating in the NHS judging by so many charities needing money even for hospices and specialised treatment for the very young.


I have to support the NHS wholeheartedly> I have used its services so many times. I have worked for the NHS, both emergency and geriatric. I have never seen any bad cases although they do exist. My sister is an American and reads the Washington Post. I must go into the WP and see what is being said. I know that my sister would like to have the NHS. They pay a high price for good medical care.


I couldn't agree more.

We should not take it for granted.

One day some politician will decide that we should be paying for 'some' treatments .... that will be the start of the slippery slope.

Most likely start I think is paying for self inflicted illnesses

e.g. caused by obesity and smoking! (well that's lots of us then)

We need to be grateful, I wouldn't be so sure my grandchildren will have the service we have



During my first exacerbation some years ago, we were cruising the boat up to Stoke on Trent and beyond,. At a place called Barlaston I took ill, Lilian rang 999 and literally within mins a community first responder had arrived. now this guy may have been a volunteer but I can tell you that somehow I felt safer . After a 4 day stint in Stafford hospital I was released back into the care of my wife. Since then I have been unfortunate to have had several stays in various hospitals. one was particularly bad, one without a doubt saved my life and I wouldn't hear a bad word against. The point I am trying to make is I really don't care how long the waiting time is in A+E, In my experience if I go into A+e with breathing difficulties I have never then waited more than 10 to 15 mins before going into assessment. IT STILL FEELS SAFER TO BE THERE. Value for money is always paramount these days , but I do not agree that institutions like NICE, ( what a bloody stupid acronym.)Pardon my french, and its bunch of bean counters can possibly decide that some one should basically live or die. It makes my blood boil though when a fellow patient in a respiratory ward , grossly overweight has several portions of every course going and then puts on his dressing gown hauls himself into a wheelchair and buggers off downstairs and outside the main doors to set up a smokescreen that people then have to walk or hobble through. When I first started going to see a GP years ago he used to treat me with total disdain , informing me that if I really wanted treatment then I should stop smoking, Harsh, I thought so at the time , I'm not so sure now.


I bless the NHS even with all its faults. I remember seeing a programme about health care in USA. A charity had organised doctors and dentists for those without health cover There were thousands of people queuing at night, often with young children, just to see a doctor. There was a guy with a hernia. He was told unless it was treated he could die. He went to the emergency room at the hospital and was told it would cost 20,000 dollars. He couldn't afford it so was forced to suffer it.. I wonder how may poor people die in USA from lack of health care. It also said that 40 pc of americans considered health care a choice! After watching that I will never complain about our NHS again....

Bev x


The USA says they are the most civilised country in the world. To me they are not. if you do not have the means to pay for your treatment you are left to die .if you end up out of work. You will most likely end up sleeping on the streets. We have many faults here in the UK but are a lot more civilised. Unless we let government take it away. I have found the NHS here in my part of South Wales faultless. The care is good and I have never been met by anything less than a smile when being treated. We can also get our medicines here with no problem. Those that like to moan about the NHS should think about the alternatives, and the less fortunate in the most civilised country in the world. That is NOT.


Hooray for you Katlover for posting this. I defend the NHS all the time, sure there are faults - even if we paid there would be faults, but I agree with most of the responders here. If you go into A&E with an asthma attack you are seen very fast in my experience. Last year I was taken into hospital in NZ with a nasty dose of COPD (not helped by the long journey after being in hospital with a chest infection here). Treatment was excellent, and we have a reciprocal arrangement for chronic cases, so did not have to pay much. The day I was admitted I saw a young arrogant woman doctor who said as she walked away "At least you're not with the NHS, you're lucky...." I wish now I had challenged her, but I was just gobsmacked and sat with my jaw on my chest! How DARE she! She'd probably be trained with the NHS anyway!!

Recently I've had a problem with floaters in an eye, I rang the eye-clinic in Windsor and was told to go in straight away. I was seen on a Saturday - after a long wait, but no problems, I was SEEN. The doc asked me to go and have lunch, come back later for laser surgery. What would THAT have cost in the US I wonder? Since then I've had several more lots of laser, and now am waiting for an appointment for keyhole surgery on the same eye. All with no direct charge to me, seeing one of the top eye surgeons,

God Bless the NHS and all the overworked underpaid people who work so hard on our behalf.


I completely agree with you! And I think we all take the system for granted sometimes - with all its faults! With my family we have been in and out for all sorts of things and overall we have been delighted and immensely grateful for the care provided. Thank God for the NHS now my husband has COPD - I would be in a state of constant anxiety if I had to worry about what the insurance would pay for and if the premiums would be affordable. TAD x


i have nothing but praise for nhs.ive got asbestosis [10 yrs] and gps, consultants,hospitals absoultly brilliantWEELL DONE nhs you can walk proud,and my everlasting gratitude.


The NHS is a fantastic organisation and it could of course be a lot better. With my lung condition my treatment has been good. I would love to say fantastic but a few glitches make me mark it down a knotch or two. We all make mistakes. However my mother in law was left in a disgusting state for an entire day and my father was grossly ignored for more than a week as his files were lost. But here is where the organisation falls apart. I lived next door to the chief executive of a health authority. He had had the job for about a year when suddenly he was dismissed due to his inabilities. A wonderful golden handshake saw him living and touring in Australia for a year. Upon his return he was employed by the same health authority as a business consultant, earning more money than he was originally paid.

The NHS is sincerely top heavy. The same as the education authorities and many more government run organisations. The sooner the management give the front line troops equality the better the service will be.


Personally I have no complaints to mention on treatment I have received through the years. In face, since moving to Wales it feels even better. son, when a baby, had an infection around his penis, the Doctor squeezed his penis and caused a hernia as my son screamed. operation required to fix it at 1 year old. Years later, my auntie's operation wound was not cleaned properly and she died of septicaemia.

In 2010, my Mum was given something solid to eat in hospital when she was supposed to be Nil By Mouth (due to a pouch in her throat that caused reflux constantly) ... the coroner concluded that she had died from aspirational pneumonia as a result of breathing in the solid material that had lodged in her throat. She was about to be discharged from hospital just before this error happened. No-one was found to blame. My view is that morale has been so very low in hospitals for a long time, turnover of nursing staff is high, and some are fab while some just do not care, do not read patient notes and do not find out proactively what patients need.


My brother also had rough time a few years ago. with a wound to his liver area - he was left lying on it, dressing soiled with his shit and wee that had soaked the entire sheet ! worrying when even though he had visitors, we couldn't be there all day and night to check up on treatment. No help with finding him a convalescent home either and I know they used to do that kind of after care.


Sadly YES it can be that bad !! We cannot ignore the horror stories. We all know that there are more managers than care staff. I have seen totally exhausted staff, trying to get everything done before handover. We cannot keep on starving the frontline of vital staff and then ignore the consequences.


Please and thank you works well.

Constant use of the call bell, merely to adjust the back rest is unreasonable. Ask to be shown how to do it yourself with the remote control. If there are a number of small things you want dealt with, save them up until you can mention them altogether.


Since the new legislation - we are moving towards the U.S. system's insurance model of healthcare, and frighteningly quickly. Insurance will guarantee good treatment, while those who can't afford it will have to make do with what will become a poor people's service.


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