Monday, February 6, 2012

Tonsillitis and the UK Health System

My prescription....and my 1L water bottle.  My 4th in 3 days...trying to stay hydrated!
So I tried to take it easy this weekend in hopes that whatever was making me feel awful would magically go away.  It didn't, no matter how much vitamin C with Zinc (thanks for the tip, Leslie!) I took, how much water I drank, or how much sleep I got.  When I woke up this morning with the same pain I've had since Thursday in my throat, I thought it was time to finally try to get it checked out.  I called the clinic I registered at just a little over a week ago.  I was on hold for about 5 minutes (with updates about where in the cue or line I was in).  I was able to get right in- I called at 8:30  and got an appointment for 8:50.  Fortunately, the clinic is literally just around the corner, so I was able to jump in the shower and make it there by 8:45.    I was in the waiting room until about 9:10, and then I was called in to see Dr. John.  I explained my symptoms and he took a look at my throat and noticed a lot of puss.  He diagnosed it right away as Tonsillitis and prescribed penicillin.  I was told to take it over the course of this week (2 pills, four times a day).  and to come back if my symptoms have not improved.  I took my prescription across the street to the pharmacy, where I waited about 10 minutes to get it filled.  Every prescription, unless you are exempt in the UK, costs £7.40 no matter what.  
So to recap:
Total time, including seeing doctor and getting prescription, less than one hour from phone call to make appointment.  
Total cost to me: £7.40 (~$10USD)
Still need to see if I get better, but overall a very nice experience with the UK health system.  I don't think I would get much better back home, and it would have probably been much more expensive.
Now, to get better!


  1. Penicillin is very inexpensive (<$4 for a prescription). A doctor's visit would have cost you ~$35, and that's if you have insurance. Sounds like a great deal at $10, but nonetheless, I am still skeptical about socialized medicine.

  2. Glad you were able to get seen quickly! Hope the meds help =) And I love that it wasn't a bank breaker for you!

    Much love!

    P.S. I think it's spelled queue, not cue ;) I'll blame it on the sickness <3

  3. Hope you are feeling better already! Glad everything else seems to be going well. I am also skeptical but impressed by your experience, what was the deal with registering a week ago?

    I miss you, though Eric may even have a sunnier disposition than you, you are irreplaceable! I suspect that you might have beaten him, if you were not so exceptionally competent that I could dump some of my boring responsibilities on you, which I can't do with him. You would smile to see him, he is like a kid in the candy store designing parts for the solar concentrator and distillation column. Ah the fun stuff.

    Looking forward to hearing about your next adventure ...

  4. @Anon: Back home, I didn't have a full time job, nor could I afford insurance. So, it would cost me a lot more, I think to see a doctor. The last time I saw a doctor back home, when I DID have insurance and even went to a subsidized clinic, since I was a student, and I still had to pay $150 for just a routine check up. Depends on the system, I know, but I found the system here to be effective and efficient. Of course, I guess, it may all be on one's perception of health care. Personally, I think it is a human right to have access to basic health care when you are sick and I really needed it here and was able to get it. They do have an option where you can pay for health insurance over here and get more options, but everyone is covered with the basics and you don't have to worry about being covered or going bankrupt if you have a serious accident or illness. Less stressful, overall, I think and a good way to live, considering most bankruptcies are declared due to health-related expenses back home. (

  5. @Meghan- you are right...queue it is. My bad. :)

    @ Dr. G- Registering was actually a breeze! I just took in proof of address, my visa and a form with some brief medical history on it and I was ready to go in 5 minutes. Then, when I called the clinic to make an appointment, I gave them my name and birthday and got right it. It was super efficient and fast! Which I hear from the locals is not always the case, so maybe I got lucky, but it seemed like a good system.
    And Eric has a sunnier disposition than me?!?! REALLY? I find that hard to I am glad he is working out for you though. And I thought Leslie is around for your more mundane tasks...she was complaining the other day about having to reformat one of the publications? :(
    Well, I'm getting my next post up here momentarily, so you can hear all about my adventures being sick and getting a room mate soon!