I’ve been very fortunate to have had very good healthcare, throughout my time with diabetes. I first attended Saint Mary’s Children’s Hospital for my diabetes care, after my diagnosis, until I was 18 years old (and considered an adult). I then began to attend The Manchester Diabetes Clinic, which was a very difficult transition for me, it was all new and up until that point I only really saw younger children and kids in their early teens just like me (at the time). I was now with patients who ranged from 18 upwards and of course every time I’d go for my appointments it just seemed like I was the only one in my age group there. (At the time it would have been nice to get to know more of the newly transitioned diabetic patients). Initially, it was a very daunting transition and I was accustomed to the children’s hospital and the people and it felt like a place where I could be at ease. I had to quickly get use to this new setting in the adult’s clinic, this meant dealing with receptionist who weren’t particularly friendly and then dealing with several different (and new) people. Towards the end of my time at the children’s hospital, I was attending appointments alone (without my mother). However, my first appointment at the adults clinic, I had to really pluck up the courage to attend the appointment alone. (It was all new and scary for me)
The adults clinic used a team approach to treat its patients. There were;
The doctors, some good and would listen and take you through your results and some bad who lectured you and joked about diabetes. I’ve experienced both of these types of doctors. However, they are there to give specialist care and advice the patients. Recently I found a very good doctor.
Then there are the nurses who are solely there to take blood samples, weight and measure patients, check your blood pressure levels and test urine samples. They are friendly and do their jobs well.
The diabetes specialist nurses (DSN) for me have always played a huge role in supporting me, educating me and no matter what, they have always made time for me. I’ve always been fortunate enough to have direct contact with my DSN, which in some case meant I had their numbers. On many occasions they’ve even made time for me during their lunch breaks and during packed schedules. They are the most caring and understanding of people and I’ve come to realise that they have really dedicated their time to diabetes and the people it affects. They know all about the latest technologies and in some case are even better versed than the doctors. They truly know how to connect with the patient. For me, I can always guarantee a very good appointment when I’m down to see a DSN.
The National Health Service
So here in the UK, for those who don’t know our health care system is known as, THE NHS (National Health Service). You can read more about it here.
The NHS, helps to pay and take care of people like me with diabetes and other chronic illnesses. All treatment is free, all medication is free and all diabetes related technology is free (except things like sensors but the majority of things are still free).
However, recently the NHS has been squeezed beyond its means and in the long run may not cater to all the needs of diabetic patients like myself. There may come a time when I may have to pay for my insulin again (like I used to when I was first diagnosed) or even turn to private care.
Turning to private care
There are many benefits to going into private care such as: being able to arrange better times for appointments, better access to consultants and more time spent on you. Nevertheless, there are also disadvantages to private healthcare, first and foremost, the costs involved in being able to have specialist diabetes care will be staggering. Unless your employer will cover you for this care, it would become very costly indeed. Medical insurance, may not cover everything you currently receive on the NHS, you would have to make sure you know exactly what it covers you for. I’ve heard from some of my American diabetic friends, about times when they’ve finished test strips and even insulin and contacted their health providers and been told that they should have enough to last them till the end of the month. That’s a frightening prospect and so we’d have a lot to consider.
Being able to make appointments isn’t as easy as it used to be. I think the increase in people who suffer from diabetes is possibly starting to put a strain on diabetes care in the UK. This was discussed in an article about the cost of diabetes in Norfolk.
Recently, I was given an appointment to see the diabetes consultant, however it was during a timewhen I was going to be travelling (JULY 2015). As soon as a received this appointment I let them know I wouldn’t be able to make the appointment. So the lady I spoke to said, she’d look to see when the next available appointment would be. So I thought, well it won’t be too far away and thought she’d give me a slot the following month. She then said, the next appointment isn’t until March 25th 2016, which completely blew my mind. Waiting times are increasing, which means not being able to get the care you need.
I’m fearful of the direction diabetes care may go in. However, whatever the outcome I will have to adjust and find the best options for myself and my diabetes, as I always have.