Thursday, March 8, 2012

NHS? I bloody wish.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning as I lay cradling my whimpering little girl in my arms I cursed myself for not bringing her to the doctor that day.

I knew she was sick, because she'd been hacking away for about a week, coughing and wheezing and generally not herself. I was just praying that she would get better on her own. But she hadn't and now we were both paying the price.

'But why? Why wouldn't you just take her to the doctor?' I hear all you people outside of Ireland ask.

Because sadly in Ireland the NHS or it's equivalent doesn't exist.

So when my 3 year old was sick last month I took him to the doctor I paid €50 (£42) for the privilege. We then traipsed to the chemist to hand over another €30 or so in prescription fees. And when the 5 year old got a chest infection that wouldn't clear up two weeks ago I took him to the doctor, paid €50 (£42) for the privilege, then headed for the obligatory visit to the chemist to empty my purse on the counter. And when he still wasn't better on Monday, and my husband also felt ill they both went to the doctor, paid €75 and then on to the chemist to hand over another €80.

So you can see why I was reluctant to visit yet again.

But of course I had to. So on Wednesday morning I traipsed in there with all three of them. The girl was diagnosed with a chest infection, exacerbated by her asthma, and the 3 year old was diagnosed with a throat and ear infection. That'll be €60 please (should of been €100) and off to the chemist with you.

Now I don't blame the doctors. But how can any normal family be expected to come up with almost €400 out of the blue on any given month? We are hugely fortunate to be able to juggle some funds, substitute a few meals for beans on toast and survive, but there are plenty of people who can't.

So is it any wonder that we let our kids get so ill before taking them to the much needed doctor?

To my mind something is seriously amiss when all those sleepless nights, hospital visits, missed school, anxiety, pain and distress are in fact avoidable. Mostly if illnesses are caught early children bounce back in a day or so. However in the current situation it's impossible to catch it early because if I were to take my children to the doctor every time they were a little bit ill we would be destitute. Sometimes they'll get through it on their own and sometimes they need a little help. What I need is an expert to tell me which is which.

So next time you lucky UK residents are about to give out about your much maligned, possibly under threat NHS - please spare a thought for your poor sick neighbours.*

Sick Boy on the mend
(*I should just add that this post is more about how Ireland has got it so wrong rather than making people who complain about the NHS feel bad!)


  1. Aw hope everyone is on the mend and make a speedy recovery. I didn't know Ireland dont have NHS, we have it in Scotland and our prescriptions have been free here longer than in the rest of the UK. I think that healthcare should be free for everyone but you'd think if they have to charge you they could at least make under 18's exempt. That's what put me off moving to the US.

  2. Wow I had no idea Kate. I have just written about my 3rd trip the docs with L to be reassured her fainting when she hurts herself is normal. I take that reassurance for granted, surely prevention is better than cure...
    Hope you are all feeling better and that a windfall comes your way to replace the lost cash :(

  3. I had no idea you guys didn't have the NHS, I struggled when I lived in America for a year as I had to pay at A+E before they would see me!

    Puts everything into perspective and I'm grateful for the care we do get. I hope everyone feels better soon x

  4. Can you get/ do you have to have health insurance there Kate? I didn't know Ireland had no NHS. Hope everyone is much better very soon.



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