Saturday, January 8, 2011

The actor Peter Postlethwaite has died age 64. I didn’t know him well. Years in the business and you work with hundreds of people most of whom with the passage of time are forgotten but Peter was one I have always remembered. We worked together at The Mermaid Theatre in London many many years ago and I don’t believe I ever saw him again after that but I remember him not only as an extremely talented actor but a lovely man. Who else was in the cast of that particular production? I don’t remember. See what I mean?
I simply cannot get my mind around why Republican thinking in the United States is so anti a health service. I remember when I was teaching at JMU the Dean of the faculty saying how much he and his wife dreaded falling really ill as, despite private insurance, a long illness would wipe them out. Now this was from fairly well off middle class America, imagine what it is like for those not so fortunate. And my insurance company every month deleted s couple more ailments the policy no longer covered though the premiums of course remained the same.
When I was rushed by ambulance into A&E in Athens a few years ago with a suspected heart attack, after an ingestion of drugs and being well seen to by three or four doctors, I was having a cup of tea in the waiting room, sitting there with Douglas and noticed this woman weeping pathetically and, when I asked Douglas what the matter could be, it turned out she had been informed she needed an operation but as a foreigner without insurance she was being turned away.
Chris and I are both entitled to treatment through the Greek health system and what a blessing it has been. As one grows older and the body begins to disintegrate it requires more and more looking after and the health system here has been doing it wonderfully well. Chris has had medicines, x-rays, scans, treatment for his back, a laser operation for a hole in a retina and now has a broken arm. Again it was diagnosed, x-rayed and he was supplied with a splint almost immediately, no hanging about. I have been in hospital twice, firstly with pneumonia, secondly for a heart pace maker. Those two sessions in hospital and the operation alone would have cost a great deal of money we simply could not have afforded with the follow-up bonus of drugs for which we pay either 20% or 10% and modern drugs are extremely expensive. The hospital treatment in both cases was simply spendid, my only complaint being hospital food! Nurses in Greek hospitals are there simply for the basics – to administer medicine, take temperatures, blood pressure, take blood, collect samples, fix drips, etcetera. Comfort nursing as I will call it, that is all the extras, is expected from family. They supply all the supplementary nursing that’s needed. Consequently there are no such things as visiting hours. It isn’t unusual even for husbands and wives to share beds if one is looking after the other and it is possible. I mustn’t forget my bout of pneumonia (and years of smoking of course) left me with decidedly dodgy lungs and I have been seeing a specialist once a month for almost a year. There are those with private insurance, there are private clinics, private doctors and medical establishments and the public and private sectors work side by side. Our IKA doctor in Xania sees IKA patients all morning but after one o’clock consultations are private and paid for. The system works well and would save the British National Health a lot of money. The Greek system would save money by cutting the paperwork in half or more and bringing methods up to date.
Douglas is not qualified for IKA so it was just as well, thank the lord, that he could be treated in England for his cancer. Treatment for that here, good as it is I believe, costs a small fortune – unless of course you are in IKA.
The system though, wonderful as it is for those in need of treatment is, like the rest of Greece, heavily in debt, I believe to the tune of 300million euro to the suppliers of drugs and medical equipment. But, like I said, modern medicine is extremely expensive. Maybe this is partly what the Republicans are worried about.

1 comment:

Lewis said...

The NHS in the UK is managed at local level, not by the doctors, but by a horde of bureaucrats under the eye of the hospital employees, excluding the physicians. So the cleaners have more say than the medical professionals.
The bureaucrats, as usual, sponge up the money. This starts at the tax office and reaches right across to the patients, who may well cost the least.
When the bureaucrats in Rome used up more money than the army needed, the soldiers settled down where they were and refused to fight. The Empire fell.