I am loving the NHS at the moment.
Sometimes, I am simply amazed at how well the system works, considering that it is free, over-worked, under-staffed and abused on regular basis.
The other day, I had a moment of pregnancy paranoia. We, pregnant women, get those often.
The baby was not moving. I spent the day listening and thinking about it, and then decided to try calling the special delivery suite number I was told to ring should I be concerned. To be honest, I expected them to tell me to relax and not worry, or perhaps ask more questions. Instead, the lady exclaimed in a cheerful loud voice a lot of midwives seem to have ‘Oh, if you are at all concerned, just pop over, luv!’
Driving to the hospital, I expected a long and unpleasant day. ‘I bet there are queues of pregnant women sitting there for hours’, I thought. But as I walked in, another friendly face greeted me and happily nodded to the examination table. In a few minutes I was strapped to a monitor, checked quite thoroughly, and told the baby was just fine. ‘However...’She added, having looked through my notes, ‘last time you had your blood checked, the results showed that your sugar levels are slightly higher than we’d like them to be.’
‘So, she added sheepishly, as if about to ask me out on a date, ‘Would you mind coming for a glucose tolerance test? We would just like to double-check in case you are getting gestational diabetes...’
Would I mind? Of course I didn’t mind. I was just happy she looked in my notes, paid attention and noticed something might be wrong.
She explained, in an apologetic manner, that unfortunately, the process was ‘very tedious’ and would require me to starve for 12 hrs and then spend over 2 hrs in the hospital with them, giving blood, drinking the gross glucose solution and then giving more blood.
At the end, she said, they would give me a sandwich.
I was laughing, telling my friend about it. Imagine, I said, they are not only asking me if I would be okay doing it and apologizing that it would inconvenience me, but also offering me free food!
My friend was not too impressed. The thought of an NHS sandwich made her gag. ‘Yew! Yuck!’ She added. But let me tell you. When you are pregnant and had no food from the night before until 12pm the following day, you probably see things in a very different light. Also, to me, the whole experience just proved once more that despite obvious problems with the system, the NHS is often simply amazing. Perhaps, it was my hormones again, but I was incredibly touched when a young student nurse kneeled next to my chair, asking me to kindly choose my sandwich. And there was a proper menu! And there was a huge choice! And, to be honest, the sandwich was really quite tasty. In the two hours I sat in their room, reading a book, the nurses chatted with me, made jokes, asked if I needed more water and if I was not too cold or hot.
And in another, separate recent incident (and I realize I sound like an old bag full of problems, but hey...such is my life) my annoying vertigo returned, and the GP prescribed some medication, assuring me it was safe in pregnancy. However, Google is your worst enemy, and after looking it up, I was not too confident.
So I called the 24-hr NHS helpline. Again, remember, it is a free service. All those people sit there for not that much money, in the evenings, listening to a lot of (often nuisance) questions. And I was prepared to be told it was not important enough or urgent enough, or to just listen to my GP and F off, to be honest. But, the woman on the phone listened very carefully, and asked if it was okay if a pharmacist called me back in an hour. To my surprise, he did call me back. He reassured me the drug was okay and spent some time on the phone checking my details and what doze I was prescribed. And, what left me completely gobsmacked in the end, was the additional phone call from some other polite woman I got in the morning. She just wanted to double-check that someone did come back to me and whether they resolved my issue, as promised.
Come on now. Where else, I ask you, would you get this sort of attention for free?