We’ve only just moved here to England, but one of the first things we had done upon arriving in Cornwall was to register with the NHS (National Health Service). We had done this by going to the local “surgery” (doctor’s office for you Yanks), getting a form, filling it out, and handing it in. That simple. We were “in the system".
By Monday afternoon, the eye was markedly worse, so after picking Nathaniel up from school, we stopped by the surgery. It was only open 8:45 - 12:45 because the town we’re in is so small, but there was an after hours number, and when I got home I gave a call. “Hello, we’ve only just arrived, but my son has a gunky eye. Would it be possible to see a doctor?". “Sure, let me take a look…ok, I’ve got a slot at 5:00, can you make it?” I looked at my watch, it was 4:35.
We got in the car and headed to the Wadebridge surgery, about 8 miles, and 20 minutes away. We arrived at 5:01, spoke with the receptionist who said we were up next. We sat down, and expecting a wait I started reading Nathaniel a book. No sooner had I finished the first page, but over the intercom I heard “Sebastian Leahy, to Dr. Scott’s office please.” We walked down the hall and into Dr. Scott’s office.
I shook hands with Dr. Scott, explained the problem, and took a look around the room. There was a desk by the door with a flat-panel computer screen, a mouse and a keyboard. There was a patient’s table, a sink, and a couple of chairs. The room was nicely sized, and there were a couple of books for Nathaniel to read. Dr. Scott looked at Sebastian’s eye, pronounced that he had conjuctivitis, and sat down at his terminal. He pulled up Sebastian’s record, typed in the diagnosis, ordered a prescription of eye drops, and clicked print. Out of the printer came a piece of paper that I was to take to the pharmacy. That was it. No nurse, no waiting, no insurance card, no co-pay. Five minutes and we were done.
I took the prescription down the hall, gave it to the pharmacist, and again sat down to wait. This time we got to the fourth page in the book before our name was called again. Nathaniel looked at me and said “Dada, how come they’re so fast here, we always got to read two books at our old doctor’s office?”
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