Monday, 7 November 2011
Is It Time To Charge For Accident And Emergency Visits?
Fortunately I've seldom had to visit an NHS A&E department. Most of the time it's been to accompany friends or family, but a recent chat with someone who works in an A & E department opened my eyes.
Although the video seems absurd it's far nearer the truth than stated by many NHS trusts. Apart for the odd 'local' turning up with an ailment which could be easily dealt with by their GP. They're given short shrift.
However, in this area there is an influx of eastern Europeans who come to pick the berries for which it is famous. The local people no longer want to do this seasonal work so thankfully eastern Europeans ensure the harvests are completed. They work for the minimal wage and often have accommodation included in their 'package'. Most are students who can go home at the end of the berry harvest and complete their studies, knowing their earnings in Scotland will provide a cushion against expenses.
But these workers, who are essential to the berry producers, clog up the local A & E on a daily basis. Although most are given information about our medical services when they enter this country, few feel the necessity to register with a GP and therefore my local hospital, for many months, is clogged by locally welcome workers and their medical problems.
My last experience of an A & E department - it was this year - was accompanying a friend who had fallen. She'd hit her head yet it was not until early the next morning she phoned me and mentioned her problems. We set off immediately to the local A & E where there was a long queue and when I asked why, I was told that many patients were unable to speak English and regularly used the department as a GP surgery. Let's not mention the amount of taxpayers money spent on translating services.
Is it time to charge for treatment in an A & E department here in the UK? In Ireland there is a cost to attending a GP or A & E. I don't suggest that we should introduce a fee for consulting a GP, but to nip along to the local A & E with a minor ailment is surely unacceptable. Charging those who misuse the service may reduce the amount of time-wasters.