Our middle ‘kid’ was over zealous on the monkey bars and upon her second attempt to master the technique, she fell to the ground and the resulting ‘yelp’ was enough to know that it was slightly more than the average 7 year old tumble. Visiting friends elsewhere for the weekend, we weren’t familiar with the local services but trotted off to the general hospital hoping they could help.
Considering the volumes of people presenting themselves with all manner of ailments, plus it was early on a Saturday evening (not the best day of the week to be visiting Accident & Emergency), we were admitted swiftly and with empathy. After 3 hours, the administration of painkillers and a couple of x-rays, we were informed that she had fractured the outside of both bones in her left wrist and a splint was applied. She’ll heal and is now basking in the attention from her fellow classmates as she recounts the experience and demonstrates the evidence to anyone within a 15m radius.
It made me think about the healthcare we receive in England.
The NHS (National Health Service) was launched in 1948 and was based on three core principles:
- that it meet the needs of everyone
- that it be free at the point of delivery
- that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay
These three principles have guided the development of the NHS over more than 60 years and remain at its core. Whilst it receives a high level of criticism – what often feels like on a daily basis – the level of care, the capabilities, the services and above all its qualified clinicians and staff, are valued and respected across England and worldwide.
So, given our move to Canada, how does the healthcare system work over there and should a similar emergency arise (perhaps with kid number 3 next time), how do we receive the care required?
Canada itself, is regarded as a very healthy place to live. It has a public healthcare system which is funded by both the federal government and provincial/territorial governments – its inception was also in 1948, but wasn’t rolled out and adopted across all Canada until 1972. It provides universal coverage for medically necessary health care services provided on the basis of need, rather than the ability to pay.
Canada spend approx 11.4% of their GDP (gross domestic product) on health – in Britain, this is 9.8%. Their spend per head is higher than the average developed country and their results see them having a higher life expectancy than many other developed countries (see my earlier blog), lower infant mortality rates and the treatment for cancer is good. For example, screening take-up is high, as are survival rates. Almost three-quarters of women diagnosed with breast cancer can expect to be alive after five years – survival rates are among the best in the world.
Their system of healthcare is known as “Medicare’ and for treatment of any kind, a health insurance card needs to be shown. The cards are presented at a hospital or clinic when you or someone in your family needs treatment. In most provinces and territories, each family member receives his or her own card with a personal health identification number. Therefore, as a family relocating to Canada, we need to make sure we apply for a state medical card when we arrive and ensure we have temporary health insurance in place whilst the formalities are completed.
It does make you realise how lucky we are to have healthcare which is accessible and immediate. It’s something that we often overlook, too readily criticise and take for granted – when a large proportion of the world population and countries receive lower than average healthcare provision, with many dying prematurely as a result.
Clearly we’re lucky and should remind ourselves of this fact daily. One things for sure, the next time monkey bars make an appearance, I’ll just check out where our nearest hospital is located
…. or call, 911 🙂