Sunday, May 10, 2009

Impressive National Health Service in Glasgow

After staying for almost 11 months in Glasgow, it was only recently that I got exceptionally impressed with the National Health Service (NHS) that was provided to not just their own citizens, but to overseas students as well.

On the first week of arrival in Glasgow, we were required to register with the local NHS. With the registration we will be able to call in for appointments with our doctor anytime. Initially, I wasn't very impressed with their system as we had to make an advance appointment before meeting the doctor. What make things difficult was, their appointment slots are ALWAYS almost full, and only left with a few weird slots for you to make an appointment. So, if you were not available during the particular slots, you will have to delay your appointment. This could delay up to a month, which by the time you get your appointment, the symptoms that you are having might have subsided.

Recently, I made appointments with the doctor, the dentist and the optician. Apart from the doctor, the dentist and optician service was impressive. We could simply go to any of the dental clinics (with appointment of course, but less busy) and get your teeth checked up. If a treatment is required, you will be asked to make another appointment. However they will first let you know the total cost of the treatment and asked if you are eligible for NHS or not. If yes, you could fill in the HC1 form and apply for a exemption certificate, which thereafter all your dental fees are covered by the NHS. Or you could pay first, and make a claim afterward.

As for the optician, the service was superb. I was toying the idea of having a pair of contact lenses. Hence, I went up the glasses shop that provides NHS service, made an appointment (which was quick) and had my eye checked for free! And the eyesight check includes not just the normal eye power check, but includes photographing the eye to check for any other health problems.

Opticians here use very extraordinarily advanced equipments to check for the eye power, eye tension, eye muscle and eye nerves. The eye nerves checking process was blinding indeed, as they will shine bright lights to check for any occlusions or abnormality in the nerves of the eye, but the outcome was very satisfying. The eye tension test was a little different as they drip a few drops of dye into my eye to check for the tension. I do not know how they analyse the eye tension, but it sure was interesting. The optician was very professional in her job. I was told that opticians in Scotland has taken over the role for checking the health through the eyes. This was done so that doctors could focus on what they really need to do. This system however, has yet to be implemented in England but they may follow suit soon.

After the checking, I was told that I could wear toric lenses, but it will cost me 15 pounds a month. Toric lenses requires special orders and hence more expensive compared to normal contact lenses. These toric lenses will be given as a trial pair for a month before I decide whether to continue or don't continue with the contact lenses. However, if i decided to quit, I would have to pay 20 pounds administrative fees. Otherwise, I can continue and enjoy the free toric lenses.

What was impressive was the near flawless service, thorough checking and their professionalism. And all these are covered under NHS. That is the best thing. :)

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