Sunday, 5 October 2014

Occidental or Accidental?

There's the sweetest young Chinese girl in my bay at the moment.

The gulf between the Chinese approach to healthcare and ours is so vast I'm not sure it could ever be bridged. Where their approach is holistic ours focuses mainly on symptoms and disease. Where they treat the whole person, we treat just a part. Where they value prevention, we seem all too often to only see the cure.

I can only imagine what she must think of our lack of respect for our older generation and as I tried to explain the pressures on our own NHS and the frustrating delays, I felt miserable and embarrassed.

However, today, she asked me how she should pay for her food. I laughed and said it was included. She asked about her medicines too. All included, I explained. "But what about my procedures and tests?" I explained that was all included too. "But included in what?" She asked, "How do they decide the final bill?"

I said there was no final bill. Healthcare in the UK was free at the point of use.

She clearly found this concept as hard to understand as I would have found the approach of her doctors back in China.

As a full time degree student, her healthcare is free too. Before anyone starts jumping up and down in outrage, I can assure you the fees she is paying for her course would make you pass out in a clean faint. Students like her keep most of our universities going. So she's paying alright, just not here and now.

However much I may have squirmed as I tried to explain the waits she was finding so mystifying, it was matched by the pride I had in describing the most equitable health service in the world.

4 comments:

  1. With regard to the "holistic" practises of traditional Chinese medicine I recommend this well-balanced article

    http://aeon.co/magazine/health/james-palmer-traditional-chinese-medicine/

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  2. On and off, during spells of illness, serious and passing, I have tried Chinese medicine. I gave up long ago and went back to the good old NHS. Without the goNHS I’d long be dead.

    btw, I really wish we would have a special fund towards keeping the NHS viable and out of the hands of the privatisation mongers. I’d gladly pay, I most certainly would have had value for money. As would my husband who is costing the NHS a ton what with loads of age-related ailments.

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  3. The word "free" is what everyone focuses on as far as the NHS is concerned. Because it is free we must not complain, the state is so beneficent that we must be grateful for all the crumbs it throws our way no matter how bad the service.

    We desperately need to show people that we all pay taxes and that is what pays for our NHS. We are the owners of the NHS not the government. The NHS, along with all public services should be answerable to us the paymasters.

    So why do ordinary people not own their part in the running of our services? Last night it occurred to me that most people are totally unaware of how much tax they pay. How many of our receipts actually show the tax amounts that are included in our everyday spending?

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  4. It's the debt that we in the UK have no conception of. Many of the people I know in China are in huge debt to pay a relative's hospital bills. Which often don't include food and basic care: that's done by relatives. While the latter is unlikely to be an issue in the UK, the debt will be as we move closer to a US-style system. Talk about 'you don't know what you've got till it's gone...'

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