I’ve been here for 8 years and I can say I’m pretty used to the “system”. Sort of.
Health system is free to everybody, but you have to register with a General Practitioner near where you live (or sometimes next to work), who will be your family doctor while you live in the area (or until you decide to find a new one). We found one as soon as we moved to this area and we are happy with it (as happy as you can be with public health system). I had all the ante-natal check ups (with midwife) there and only had to go to the hospital for scans.
All the kids vaccines are also done there, which is quite practical. Beatrice is due to her first set of vaccines in two weeks time and Laura will have her pre-school booster in September. The vaccines here are not the same as in Brazil because some of the diseases have been eradicated in the UK, but with so many immigrants in the country, they have offered “special” vaccines to certain group of people. I have been offered BCG for Beatrice as Brazil is in the list of countries in risk of Tuberculosis. Laura didn’t have it and I can’t find my BGC mark, so not sure I had it although my mum said I had.
For special needs, we have to be referred to a specialist in the area. We’ve noticed that Laura’s right foot is slightly bend towards her left foot, causing her to trip over it. I went to the GP to referred me to an orthopaedist. I am waiting to hear back with an appointment date at the hospital but it isn’t something quick to get. I’m not stressed yet because it isn’t a major issue for now.
Although appointments are free, medication is not. The prescription is charged a flat fee, so if you have a prescription for one box of whatever medication or for 10 boxes, the price will be the same. Some medications don’t require a prescription (eg Paracetamol) and can be cheaper to buy over the counter as opposed to having a prescription. Children and pregnant women up to baby’s first year are entitled to free medication, but only when they have a prescription. Laura’s GP have never given me prescription for Paracetamol or cough syrup, so I have always paid for them. I don’t mind, because I only get them once in a lifetime, but if the kid has these sort of medication all the time, their parents should request the prescription to save money!
Dentists aren’t free but some accept NHS patients and it is a lot cheaper than the normal price. I know some people don’t like dentists here, especially via NHS, but for the simple hygiene and check up, I think it is ok.
When we moved to our new area, I had just given birth to Laura, so I was entitled to free dentist (from pregnancy until the baby is one year old). I registered with a dentist not too far from us and went there a few times. When the fee exemption expired, I called them to book a routine check. To my surprise, I was informed that I wasn’t registered as an NHS patient and would have to pay the full fee.
Life carried on, I forgot about it and recently I realised that I haven’t been to a dentist for two years (shame on me!!!), not even during the second pregnancy (shame on me twice!!!), and I kept forgetting to look for a new dentist to register with. Hubby has his clinic not too far as well and said they are good but they must be so bloody good that they only have appointments in six weeks time. I booked, but now that I set my mind to it, I don’t want to wait that long. I found a new one, close to Laura’s nursery and booked for mid-July. I hope they are good and I can stick to them for a long long time.
It will be Laura’s first visit to the dentist – it is recommended that children go as soon as they have teeth, and children have free treatment until they are 18.