So you want National Healthcare???…Humm…Prescription hell..

Poldark Locations
A map illustrating the various locations in Cornwall where the TV series Poldark is filmed.

Fascinating Fact of the Day Bodmin Moor, Cornwall:
The Moor contains about 500 farm holdings with around 10,000 beef cows, 55,000 breeding ewes and 1,000 horses and ponies. Most of the moor is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and has been officially designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), as part of Cornwall AONB.”

Soon, once the laundry is done and we’re done here, we’re heading to Bodmin Moor to check out the scenery, which we’ve heard about over and over again. Also, we’ve been aware that some of the scenes from the British TV series Poldark (another favorite of ours) were filmed in the Bodmin Moors. Tomorrow, our final day in St. Teath, Bodmin, we’ll post photos from the moor.

We’d hoped to have gone to Bodmin Moor yesterday, but with other immediate tasks on hand, as you’ll see below, we postponed it until today. Fortunately, it’s sunny again today, which motivates us to continue with our plans.

In the interim, we have an important story to share, especially for those readers who have desired a national healthcare service in their country. It may not be all that it’s “cracked up” to be, after all, based on comments we’ve heard over the years from our British friends and others.
A little love among the pygmy goats.
 Many have the perception that such a national service is “free.” That’s hardly the case.  The citizens pay for the cost via taxes imposed on many products, services, and daily living expenses.  Tourists pay VAT taxes and taxes on food, dining out, tours, housing, and more.
“The National Health Service is the publicly funded national healthcare system for England and one of the four National Health Services for each constituent country of the United Kingdom. It is the largest single-payer healthcare system in the world.”
Now, we have a personal example of sharing about the National Healthcare Service in England. Recently, I noticed that one of the two medications I take for hypertension is running low. I thought I had plenty more in our luggage, but alas, I searched through everything and couldn’t find it.
The goats get along well with the chickens that wander into their paddock.
I wouldn’t doubt that I made an error and missed refilling the one during the worst of my recovery when I wasn’t thinking as clearly as I am now. I surprised myself that I didn’t screw up more during that period!  

In looking back at prior posts, I realized I started up again precisely two weeks after the cardiac bypass surgery. Here’s the link to that day. And, I didn’t miss a beat (no pun intended) when I returned to the hospital for the two-leg surgeries a few days apart. Here’s the link to the story I wrote when I returned to the hospital for five days for the leg surgeries.

As a result, I’m not beating myself up for missing the refilling of the one prescription. I just needed to figure out how to get it filled at a local pharmacy without going through a big hassle. I was overly optimistic.
Goat love standing on the highest structure wherever they may be.
First, we tried several pharmacies in several small villages. Pharmacists can sell a one or two-month dose of any non-narcotic medication to a customer on an emergency basis. The drug I needed was non-narcotic.  
I had enough medication to last 14 days, so I assumed I had plenty of time to figure this out.  The first pharmacist in the town of Camelford agreed to refill it on an emergency basis if I could provide proof that the medication was prescribed for me.Since I had enough to last two weeks, I returned with “the proof” a week later, and he flat out refused to refill the medication! He said if it were an emergency, I wouldn’t have waited a week to bring him the proof. He stated I needed to see a doctor for a new prescription. Oh, good grief. I must admit I stormed out the door in a huff, totally unlike me to do.
This cutie posed for a photo.
I didn’t want to see a doctor. We’d heard how hard it was to get an appointment with a GP and, I didn’t want to have to go through everything with a doctor I’d never see again. We tried a few more pharmacies to no avail, even with the proof in hand.

From there, we tried a few more pharmacies again without any luck. Then, the fun began! We resigned ourselves to the reality that a doctor’s appointment was necessary.

There are several doctors in the various small towns around us. I called every one of these and was told they had no openings, now or shortly.  There was nothing they could do.  

My only solution would be to go to the hospital, which would take hours and cost quite a bit for a US $20 prescription.  In doing so, they may have required me to go through several unnecessary tests to be given the prescription.
The next day I asked property owner Lorraine what she’d suggest I do. She proceeded to tell me about dialing 111, not 999 (an emergency number comparable to 911 in the US). She felt by calling this “helpline,” they’d figure out a solution.
Immediately, I called 111, and after a barrage of questions, they gave me two numbers to reach the following day at 8:30 am and explained I had registered my request with 111 and I’d be given priority consideration in getting a 5-minute doctor appointment.

At 8:30 yesterday morning, I called the numbers I was given and still was given the run around that no appointment was available. I persisted, explaining I only needed a five-minute appointment, and I didn’t want to re-contact 111 for further instructions.  

As it turns out, patients are required to be given priority treatment when they’ve gone through 111. Finally, one of two receptionists relented and booked me in for a 3:50 pm appointment yesterday, requiring us to arrive at 3:30 to complete the paperwork. No problem.  

We were there 30 minutes earlier than required, and after the five-minute appointment with an elderly doctor, we walked out the door with the prescription in hand.

We wondered what would have transpired if I hadn’t been so persistent. We’ve heard stories of citizens dying from their inability in getting urgent doctor appointments as explained in this article as shown below:

“Patients were dying on NHS waiting lists ‘surges by 10,000.’

The number of patients dying while waiting for treatment has increased by over 10,000, according to reports.

A freedom of information request to NHS Trusts, carried out by the Express, revealed that the number of patients dying while on a waiting list rose from 18,876 in 2012/13 to 29,553 in 2017/18.

The information request also saw that there was an increase of more than 50% across dozens of NHS Trusts. But this number could be higher, as only half (67 of 135) of the NHS Trusts responded, the paper reported.

One NHS trust in the South-west saw that the number of people who died on a waiting list rose by 250% – from 652 in 2012/13 to 2,289 in 2017/18.

At the same time, a North-west NHS Trust reported that its figure had doubled from 147 to 305, while one in the East of England found it had increased from 392 to 577.  This comes as the latest figures from NHS England saw that only 87.8% of patients are seen within 18 weeks, below the 92% target.

And as of June this year, there were 4.11m people on waiting lists, 280,000 more than in June last year, representing a 60% increase since June 2010.

Having seen this situation first hand and having heard about it from many UK residents, we are convinced this type of system is seriously flawed both in the UK, Canada, and many other countries.  

No, we weren’t charged for the doctor’s appointment, which we happily offered to pay but were refused. Why are taxpayers paying for tourist’s medical needs?  Are tourists coming here and staying a few months to jump on the “free service?”

When we get the prescription filled in the next few days, we will be charged but were told the price will be five times more than we’ve paid in the past. Maybe, in essence, we’re paying after all with the outrageous cost of the prescriptions themselves.

Of course, we’re no experts on healthcare, and the US system is also seriously flawed as it is in many countries throughout the world. We continue to live with the reality that our international insurance failed us in South Africa, and we had to pay the enormous bill out of pocket.

We learn as we go.  

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with our final post from the Tredarupp Holiday Cottages and begin making our way toward Witheridge, a two-hour drive.

May today be a learning day for you, with a good outcome. Be well.
Photo from one year ago today, September 19, 2018:
Based on our position in the line-up of vehicles, our photo-taking advantage was limited. For more photos, please click here.

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