Here's a very funny article by a Brit. The guy is an absolute ass normally, but I couldn't stop laughing.http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/jeremy_clarkson/article6814702.ece
While I was away, there was a big debate about how Barack Obama might sort out America’s healthcare system, which, say the critics, is chronically awful and fantastically unfair.
It’s also bonkers. I was once denied treatment at a Detroit hospital because the receptionist’s computer refused to acknowledge that the United Kingdom existed. Even though I had a wad of cash, and a wallet full of credit cards, she was prepared to let me explode all over her desk because her stupid software only recognised addresses in the United States.
Some say America should follow Canada’s lead, where private care is effectively banned. But having experienced their procedures while on holiday in Quebec, I really don’t think that’s a good idea at all.
A friend’s 13-year-old son tripped while climbing off a speedboat and ripped his leg open. Things started well. The ambulance arrived promptly, the wound was bandaged and off he went in a big, exciting van.
Now, we are all used to a bit of a wait at the hospital. God knows, I’ve spent enough time in accident and emergency at Oxford’s John Radcliffe over the years, sitting with my sobbing children in a room full of people with swords in their eyes and their feet on back to front. But nothing can prepare you for the yawning chasm of time that passes in Canada before the healthcare system actually does any healthcare.
It didn’t seem desperately busy. One woman had lost her face somehow — probably a bear attack — and one kid appeared to have taken rather too much ecstasy, but there were no more than a dozen people in the waiting room. And no one was gouting arterial blood all over the walls.
After a couple of hours, I asked the receptionist how long it might be before a doctor came. In a Wal-Mart, it’s quite quaint to be served by a fat, gum-chewing teenager who claims not to understand what you’re saying, but in a hospital it’s annoying. Resisting the temptation to explain that the Marquis de Montcalm lost and that it’s time to get over it, I went back to the boy’s cubicle, which he was sharing with a young Muslim couple.
A doctor came in and said to them: “You’ve had a miscarriage,” and then turned to go. Understandably, the poor girl was very upset and asked if the doctor was sure.
“Look, we’ve done a scan and there’s nothing in there,” she said, in perhaps the worst example of a bedside manner I’ve ever seen.
“Is anyone coming to look at my son?” asked my friend politely. “Quoi?” said the haughty doctor, who had suddenly forgotten how to speak English. “Je ne comprends pas.” And with that, she was gone.
At midnight, a young man who had been brought up on a diet of American music, American movies and very obviously American food, arrived to say, in French, that the doctors were changing shift and a new one would be along as soon as possible.
By then, it was one in the morning and my legs were becoming weary. This is because the hospital had no chairs for relatives and friends. It’s not a lack of funds, plainly. Because they had enough money to paint a yellow line on the road nine yards from the front door, beyond which you were able to smoke.
And they also had the cash to employ an army of people to slam the door in your face if you poked your head into the inner sanctum to ask how much longer the wait might be. Sixteen hours is apparently the norm. Unless you want a scan. Then it’s 22 months.
At about 1.30am a doctor arrived. Boy, he was a piece of work. He couldn’t have been more rude if I’d been General Wolfe. He removed the bandages like they were the packaging on a disposable razor, looked at the wound, which was horrific, and said to my friend: “Is it cash or credit card?”
This seemed odd in a country with no private care, but it turns out they charge non-Canadians precisely what they would charge the government if the patient were Céline Dion. The bill was C$300 (about £170).
The doctor vanished, but he hadn’t bothered to reapply the boy’s bandages, which meant the little lad was left with nothing to look at except his own thigh bone. An hour later, the painkillers arrived.
What the doctor was doing in between was going to a desk and sitting down. I watched him do it. He would go into a cubicle, be rude, cause the patient a bit of pain and then sit down again on the hospital’s only chair.
Seven hours after the accident, in a country widely touted to be the safest and best in the world, he applied 16 stitches that couldn’t have been less neat if he’d done them on a battlefield, with twigs. And then the anaesthetist arrived to wake the boy up. In French. This didn’t work, so she went away to sit on the doctor’s chair because he was in another cubicle bring rude and causing pain to someone else.
Now, I appreciate that any doctor who ends up working the night shift at a provincial hospital in Nowheresville is unlikely to be at the top of his game, and you can’t judge a country’s healthcare on his piss-poor performance. And nor should all of Canada be judged on Quebec, which is full of idealistic, language-Nazi lunatics.
But I can say this. If private treatment had been allowed, my friend would have paid for it. He would have received better service and in doing so, allowed Dr Useless to get to the woman with no face or ecstasy boy more quickly. Though I suspect he would have used our absence to spend more time sitting down.
The other thing I can say is that Britain’s National Health Service is a monster that we can barely afford. But in all the times I’ve ever used the big, flawed giant, no one has ever pretended to be French, no one has spent more time swiping my credit card than ordering painkillers and there are many chairs.