Well, we have been lucky so far with our travels and except for a terrible cold and some allergies have not had any health issues. That was until Tuesday. David had hurt his big toe when he accidentally dropped a suitcase on it a week before. It had been healing until Sunday night when it started to bleed and to hurt. By Tuesday , we knew we would have to see a doctor. What do you do when you are in a foreign country?
Well, here in the UK they have the National Health Service (NHS, free coverage for all of their citizens and indeed anyone from the EU). After a little Googling, we followed what they ask you to do when you need help. David called the NHS hotline (111) and spoke to a nurse who advised him to go to the ER near where we are staying. (A little surprisingly, there are Walk-in Centres (kind of like US Urgent Care) only in more rural areas.) So we took the #2 bus, which conveniently stops 100 feet from our door, to the hospital and waited for about 1.5 hours to see a doctor. The doctor was very nice and after we all talked about it , we decided that the toe nail had to come off. Here is a photo of nursing assistant Lauren, who did all the hard work and helped the doctor take the nail off .
We got the toe bandaged up and went home on the bus with a round of antibiotics to take. We changed the dressing Saturday and the toe looked good. Today it looks normal and a regular bandage is enough. We were thankful for the NHS assistance and the good work done in the Cambridge Addenbrooke’s A&E.
By the way, we immediately confessed to being visitors from the US, and the word “insurance” was not heard, nor was there any request for payment. They even waived the co-pay for the medicine, which is normally £8.40. They did take our address, so perhaps the final outcome will be different. but right now we think this care was free. The NHS website seems to say this is the case for emergency care when you’re not admitted to the hospital.
Also by the way, there is a full complement of reality TV in the UK just like in the US. It includes police (highway and city), border control (from the UK, Canada, Ireland, US, and Australia), lifeboat rescue, and yes, medicine (both emergency and GP (general practice, you local family doctor).