This would not be tolerated in most of the countries I have lived in

I was born in the UK but have lived in Australia, the US & Singapore amongst others. Now retired to Cambridge it is apparent to me that the NHS is falling apart and cannot cope and that the standard of health care is greatly inferior to that available in my former countries of residence. Not just slightly inferior but massively inferior. Recent examples: 1) Major foot problem making it very difficult to walk. GP says need to see a specialist but have to try Physio first. Fine, except that it took 3 months to get a response from NHS Physio telling me they will write to me again in 5 months time when I've progressed sufficiently far down the waiting list! Then another 4 months minimum (I'm guessing, based on the next example) before the specialist appointment can be made. Clearly, at 70 years old they are hoping that I never have to attend! 2) Another specialist appointment for a different condition will have taken 6 months before I attend the clinic in June; 3) Had a contact today with the NHS 111 number which ended in a total failure to get help because of the total inflexibility of the medic involved for what was a resolvable and obvious condition normally treated with a broad spectrum antibiotic. Can't leave the house for tests so a 95% chance of cure with the antibiotic normally prescribed for this would have been logical & would have allowed me to do that. Now at an impasse.

The UK Government appears to be doing nothing about this. Uncontrolled immigration with no end in sight (all of the countries that I've lived in have immigration policies in line with the ability to absorb immigrants and 4-year visa holders in key jobs without undue strain on public services - it really is very easy). No diversion of funds from the overseas 'aid' budget; an apparent willingness to accept the 50 billion unaudited & unsubstantiated bill from the EU etc etc.

You couldn't make this up!

15 Replies

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  • Unfortunately you have to investigate complementary medicine which requires paying for.

    The government is constrained by vested interests. Everyone is shouting for a limited pot of money. I pay for medical treatment. If I did not I would not get treatment.

  • There are also many, many countries who would be absolutely delighted if we could export even what's left of our NHS. They'd enjoy standards of health care they can only dream of.

    By coincidence we are almost the same age and have obviously both enjoyed a cosmopolitan sort of life, spent in several countries. I however often had the opposite experience to yourself and, according to my location often experienced far more horrifying treatment (and usually the lack of it), than you have. And that's been due to a lack of money and infrastructure.

    As a people we have to decide what we want, because we only get what we are prepared to pay for. Any government raises its revenue to run our NHS from us all, and if they don't choose to do so, the sophisticated treatments we all now demand, can't be paid for. At the heart of it all, it's really as simple as that.

    Views on why and how it happened won't help us. We simply have to pay up if we want to improve the system we have, because I don't believe that all that many of us really want to lose it altogether.

  • Thanks, points taken.

    I've also lived in or have spent very long periods of time in underdeveloped countries (I've had 18 full international house moves in my life - furniture and all!) and with my family have been subject to some pretty awful medical treatment, perhaps the worst case being failure of an overseas doctor to correctly interpret tests that (apparently) clearly showed that my then 25-year old wife had cancer. Incredible luck that we subsequently ended up in Houston, Texas, where it was diagnosed & cured at an advanced stage. She is still alive, and healthy.

    However, I don't agree with comparing our performance to underdeveloped countries. I have to admit, I was a bit (actually very!) horrified at the cancer survival rates map of western Europe which has the UK coloured red and France green. I think that's the level we should be striving for.

    Yes, the government raises its revenue for the health service from us, but the number of people requiring treatment from the system is rising exponentially. Therefore, the money that goes into the health service has to rapidly increase or the number of people has to rapidly decrease. But the people are here already so that won't happen. We are already incredibly, incredibly, highly taxed compared to most other developed nations, when all of the 'stealth' taxes are taken into account and we have arguably reached the point where attempts to extract more money from the population will result in decreased, not increased, revenues, and worse than that, decreased economic performance. I'm already familiar with examples of this happening.

    I understand what you are saying, but I don't agree that a diagnosis of how we got to this point won't help. Yes, we 'are where we are' but understanding why is important to fixing it and at least slowing the rate of increase of under-capacity going forward. That will involve a combination of more money and quite rapid decrease in the rate of immigration. Both of those measures need to be implemented quite fast. It is do-able (maybe) but not by a smug government with its head in the sand pretending that no problems exist and with no plan.

  • Wait Call back 1030pm in stead call back at 0315am not good then I had sleeping tablet to take at that time I rang Sandwell adive I needed

  • I, too, chose the alternative route after being damaged by an incompetent system. To fight it takes too much energy and with no satisfactory result - a waste of precious time when one needs to concentrate on getting well - produces negative energy, too and that is not good for health.

    I choose a good diet and listen to my body - every body wants to heal with the right conditions and for me, traumatic invasive and toxic treatment was not and is not the answer as I suspect is the case for so many others.

  • If you are unable to go out and use a taxi you a GP may visit you and may prescribe the antibiotics that you think you need.

    There will be changes over time to immigration, probably adopting a points system to be able to get the skills we need here, once leaving the EU.

    Our overseas aid is needed and it encourages other countries to contribute too.

    If the other countries that you have spent your life in, you think are so much better, why come back here and complain?

  • OK - thanks, yes - the problem however was that it was a Sunday and I could not get the NHS 111 doctor that I spoke to, to take me seriously, even after overcoming the language problem that we were having (his English was very poor). So no GP to the house. Had transport but the condition (without going into details) meant that I couldn't leave the house. Later in the day my condition worsened considerably, with a very high fever (temp of 41) and I ended up at the A&E of the local hospital, partly comatose, where the triage people whisked me immediately to a treatment ward, put me on an intravenous Co-amoxiclav antibiotic drip with intravenous paracetamol to bring the temperature down - all eventually successful. Couldn't fault that part of it - they were absolutely superb, ultra professional and very, very quick and obviously very effective. OK - so why didn't I go to A&E earlier? I know the hospital very well. They are at or above capacity for significant periods and that includes A&E. Not their fault. From what I saw it is an incredibly well organised hospital with superb & dedicated personnel. The number of people living in the area that the hospital serves is increasing exponentially - so now we've reached capacity. What comes next? It is difficult to see any solution without action from the Government, and I'm not seeing that. It is urgently needed. The example that I gave of the physio in my earlier post: I did not mention that the total time to get an appointment (same condition) last year was 2 months; now it's 8 months. An indication perhaps of the pace at which the system is becoming overwhelmed (in this part of the country at least).

    So my update on the NHS (this region only, personal experience & from others I know); fantastic treatment in an emergency; otherwise a significant deterioration in service from even a year ago.

    Bravo for mentioning the points system. I've been personally subject to that in Australia and it works beautifully. The Aussies would help set that up if the Government would swallow it's pride and ask for it. Needs to be a bit quicker than 'over time' though.

    Don't agree about the overseas aid. Have also lived or been heavily involved in some of the so called third world countries where our money goes and a lot of it ends up lining pockets. Used to think it was a great idea. After having seen how those countries operate & having assessed that against the benefits, I'm dead against it, especially the ring-fenced percentage of GNP, which means we have to fling out of the country a fixed amount each year, come what may.

    Now your last point - (whinging!) - didn't say the countries were better, just health treatment, and the latter wasn't broken when I came back. Hard to argue that one if you look at the league tables of major nations concerning treatment success and survival rates. We're way down the table and failure to diagnose at an early stage (long waiting lists to see specialists) is cited as the reason. We can't get anything done about it by staying silent. Governments (all colours) and the EU have got us to this point by lack of planning. Pressure from the population may or may not succeed but it's worth a try.

  • I would like to thank the people who have responded to this post with views, good and bad on how we should be improving the NHS. Just making blanket comments on how bad the service is does not help. Please everyone, this is your chance to try and make things better and look at ways we can improve it. It does not help just running it down.

    Sioban xx

  • The trouble is we relied too long on the NHS to solve our health problems but greed, self-interest, and political posturings have destroyed it. Figures and league tables are a side issue. Systems for redress and learning are set up to cloak and play down negligencies -even malpractice- until finally the truth bursts out years too late, and everyone is 'so surprised' and 'shocked' that many were let down by 'trusted' doctors. As in any other profession competing for best statistics: trust nobody; ask questions; get other advice; get written answers and above all do not assume Doctor Knows Best. No! they have the same self interest as anyone else trying to hang on to a comfortable 'living' and enjoy total protection.

  • I actually grew up in Singapore and have found that the health system there also has its fair share of problems and complaints. Furthermore, both Singapore and Australia actually have a far higher proportion of immigrants than the UK. According to the UN's last count, foreigners make up 11.3% of the UK's population, whereas it is 27.7% in Australia, and a whopping 42.9% in Singapore, so I do not think the issues faced by the NHS lie in that direction.

  • Thanks for your reply, ruiyyanko. There is a huge difference between Australia & Singapore on the one hand and the UK on the other and that is the rate of assimilation of immigrants, both historic and present. Australia & Singapore have always controlled the rate of immigration to levels that can be absorbed without undue strain on public services. Furthermore, of the 42.9% foreigners that you quote in Singapore, the majority are not immigrants, they are long-term and short-term employment pass holders. My daughter is currently one of those. She has a 5-year employment pass, but has no rights to stay beyond that, and in fact, if her employment terminates there (for instance in a recession), the five-year pass terminates with it. A 'sustainable rate of assimilation' of immigrants is built into Australia's immigration policy. The UK's problems with the NHS & other services stem from poor immigration management (at times it seems like no immigration management) recently compounded by the EU's 'open door' policy. No country can absorb immigrants at this rate. The Eastern Europeans are lovely people (seriously) but essential services such as the NHS cannot be maintained at an acceptably functioning level under those conditions. Even if billions and billions more are thrown at it, there still remains the problem of growing the NHS infrastructure at a pace that will keep up with it. Hospitals can't be built overnight. At this point, Australia would greatly slow the rate of visa issuance until the system caught up. Germany, France and the EU forbid us from doing that. Unfortunately a large section of the population saw Brexit as the solution. Implementation of Brexit will take a very long time. In the meantime, the UK government needs to implement whatever measures it can under EU law to reduce pressure on the NHS from uncontrolled and poorly managed immigration. I'm not seeing any evidence that this is being done. If we recognise that this is part of the problem then we can try to put pressure on those that purport to run this country (no party is without blame) to get something done.

  • Regardless of whether their stay is long-term or short-term, they would still be using the same resources as locals. Of the 11.3% here, there are many who also move back to their home country after a period of time. EU nationals still have to pay taxes and pass a "right to reside" test, while those from outside the EU face restrictions on how long they can stay, so I wouldn't say it is all that uncontrolled. Years ago, I remember a mate from Malaysia nearly facing deportation until he he managed to get another job. And wasn't a Singaporean woman recently sent back even though she was married to a British man and had resided in the UK for most of her life?

    Depending on the type of EP your daughter has (5 years is pretty good...I remember my mum having to renew hers quite often), she will be eligible for PR after a certain period of time. Can't speak for Australia, but the immigration policy in Singapore is actually very generous because they rely heavily on FT (foreign talent), and many migrants do continue living there which is why it is so densely populated. However, it is true that for a tiny country to be capable of withstanding such a rapid rate of growth speaks more about their management skills as a whole, and not just in border control. A lot of other factors are involved so it's not quite black and white. There is no reason (apart from incompetence!) we can't cope with the level of immigration here in the UK as it's not all that high in the great scheme of things.

    Also, I'd like to point out that Singapore's health system isn't exactly 'free' like ours here. And despite government subsidies, some less affluent citizens over there still struggle to afford better care than the bare minimum, whilst others have to supplement state plans with other insurance to get better coverage. And all this time, queues at their polyclinics aren't getting any shorter, with patients complaining that they sometimes have to wait hours to be seen. I can commiserate, because I have been one of them. And yet, at my local walk-in centre, the longest I ever had to wait was less than an hour.

  • I too am getting on bit and have lived most of my working life overseas, primarily in Germany with spells in other countries. I agree with you that care of chronic conditions in the UK is appalling. Both my wife and I have conditions where we have had 4 months waiting with no action taken. What is frustrating is that I know for sure from friends that this is a postcode lottery . Just over the harbour in Portsmouth there is a two week waiting list for treatment! I have reached the conclusion that I will have to start using private health care. Very expensive but then I cant take it with me.

    I am however both amused and disappointed by your criticism of immigration into the UK. From someone who has been an immigrant themselves for much of their lives it is frankly laughable. Much of the NHS is actually run by 'immigrants" There is no doubt that they contribute by paying taxes, and those problems which do exist could be solved relatively easily by a government that actually did something rather than blaming every that is not ideal on an external agency (mostly the EU). The situation is very different in Germany, despite what the tabloids will tell you, because the German government actually does something to solve issues as they arise. However, we will see what the stupidity of brexit brings us. I think that however bad things are, they will only get worse. So prepare for it.

  • Hi - apologies for the delay in replying. Three interesting points there: 1) absolutely correct - it is a postcode lottery - I've found that out since my original post; 2) Ah - but - the point is that I've been an 'immigrant' in countries that have a functioning government that is properly organised and solves issues (as per your third point). I'm not against immigration. Only against immigration that is so uncontrolled by dysfunctional governments that it overwhelms public services. All of the countries in which I have lived have temporary residence and permanent residence categories. I lived and worked for years in the US (twice), Singapore (five times) and Indonesia (three times) but I was never an immigrant in any of those countries. The countries in question issue temporary residence visas for shortage job categories (up to four or five years, renewable if still needed). Similarly with Australia. Australia's philosophy has always been to control immigration very carefully so that public services do not become overwhelmed, and more importantly, so that when the next recession, financial crisis, or whatever, comes, and tax receipts plummet along with other government income, solvency can be maintained, social services can function and the out of work and others that need help can be supported. Allowing the open floodgates of uncontrolled immigration is mismanagement at the highest level in a country with as high a level of benefit and social support as the UK, because when that recession comes, which it surely will, government coffers will be strained to the limit and beyond. So, no, I haven't been an immigrant in any country other than Australia; I have lived in the other countries on 'needed person' long-term temporary residence visas and by definition not a strain on the system (because I wasn't allowed free public services in any of those countries). Yes, immigrants are needed, but have to be managed according to the needs of the country and in this country, as far as I can see (and as you imply), governments are managing very little.

    That brings me to your third point: absolutely correct. That sounds like most countries I have lived in (even Indonesia, to an extent). Since the debacle of the last UK election it has become horrifyingly clear (to me anyway) that the UK is currently ungovernable and I don't mean because of the slim majority, but because of the totally inept politicians of the two major parties, poor management (NHS included) poor planning (of anything) and because of the lack of a detailed organised constitution . So when you mention Brexit, that brings me to another point. I now strongly believe that governance of the UK by the EU, by a Franco-German axis, by an EU superstate, or whatever, would be infinitely preferable to an independent UK under its current political system, after witnessing the horrifying ineptitude of the current government and the domesday scenario that would surely follow election of a Corbyn government. I actually now not just think that we should be in the EU, I think that we need to be rescued by it! All of a sudden, free movement of people looks like the lesser of two evils. So, health workers for the NHS from EU countries if needed; proper and controlled immigration management for workers from other countries if they are needed; strict enforcement of immigration laws to greatly lower and hopefully eliminate the influx of non-EU illegal immigrants. Immigration management would include such simple measures as exit immigration at airports (as in every other country I have ever visited!). Someone made a point earlier that temporary visas are issued: however as the Mayor of Calais pointed out, the UK doesn't actually know whether those people actually left and in many cases they haven't!

    Apologies (to everyone) if some of this sounds off-topic, but the NHS is swamped by the sheer volume of patients seeking treatment and the waiting lists are growing by the month. Management of immigration isn't the whole story or the whole solution, but it should certainly be on the 'bullet point' list for necessary action.

  • Hi, sorry to hear about your experience with the NHS. I share the same view point as yourself regarding the standard of care that we receive here in the UK. It takes forever trying to get referrals to were you should have been from the outset. Results for MRi's and X-rays take ages to filter through, you wait weeks to actually get the results and if the surgery you need is going to cost too much the NHS don't want to know. Consultants are now having to bid for funding and if they cant get the funding its a case of painkillers that don't even work and you are sent on your way. You are then given the option to pay private which is costly and the vast majority of people cant afford private care. Its disgusting how people have paid National Insurance for years towards healthcare and when they need treatment they are unable to access it due to funding aspects.

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