lundi 31 août 2009

NHS Hospital Delivers Baby Safely

I know, I know, we have been very much out of touch. I promise that we have a good reason, though: our little globe-trotting cacahuète was born in mid-April. In the months following the birth, it felt like we were running a hotel, as grandparents, aunts, and cousins from near and far came to meet the newest family member. I have also gotten very involved in the local baby circuit, hanging out with other new mums in the local area parks. Bring on the power-pramming!

You might remember that when I was pregnant, I blogged that I was concerned about having a baby in the NHS. I really needn't have worried as the hospital staff was very knowledgeable and efficient. Even when things got a bit dicey right before the peanut's grand appearance, the midwives, doctors and nurses were in control of the situation. And for a couple of weeks after the birth, I had midwives and health visitors coming to my living room to check on us both. It was great to have medical professionals visit us at home, since it took me a few weeks to feel like I could venture outside the house with the always-hungry and insatiable peanut.

While Joe the Plumber might be surprised to hear of my positive experience having a baby in the NHS, Stephen Hawking would find nothing unusual in it. Indeed, like most Brits, he would likely be amused at my amazement that health care here is free. I understand that it is our tax pound that pays for nationalized health care, but taxes here are not much higher than they were in the US, which makes me think that we are getting a good deal overall.

Additionally, supposing that I was utterly distrustful of the NHS, I still have the option of seeing doctors and specialists on a private basis. In short, if I want to pay for extra service, I am free to do so. But if I - like most of the uninsured Americans - cannot afford to pay for private health care, I can use the national medical system. As a new parent, it is comforting to know that no matter what happens to us job-wise, the peanut can still see a doctor. And politics aside, fundamentally, it's all about taking care of peanuts, isn't it?

That said, it does feel a bit like I'm missing out on all the fun of the health care debate back in the US. Maybe I can say we've been too busy dealing with all the death panels, health rationing and socialism. But, like Stephen Hawking, the cacahuète and I are alive and healthy in spite of it all, so there you go.

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