NHS vs private

Maya Driver

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As the threat of swine flu seems to be growing more real, many people fear that the government and consequently the NHS are not prepared enough to protect the nation from this pandemic. Despite the government's reassurances that they have supplies enough of the anti-flu drug Tamiflu, many people are buying their own medicine from online retailers. The problem here is that members of the public cannot be certain that what they are buying is the real deal. The Tamiflu bought online could potentially be fake and therefore harmful.

It's not just the recent swine flu pandemic that has had people grumbling about the NHS. Not long ago, the media were banging on about MRSA and cleanliness in hospitals and besides the stories that are highlighted by the press, there are also the usual complaints about the slow, indifferent service. But are these complaints really fair? The UK is one of the few countries that offers free healthcare and subsidised prescription drugs. Depending on the services you are seeking the NHS is a useful service to have access to.

But what is the alternative? Thousands of people opt for private healthcare over NHS because private facilities tend to be newer, they have better access to medical equipment including supplies of Tamiflu, there are significantly shorter waiting lists and patients receive more dedicated care from their doctors than with the NHS since doctors have fewer patients to deal with. But the obvious drawback of going private is the cost involved. Unless you are covered by a healthcare plan through your work, private GP fees can be very expensive. On top of the consultation fees, you would have to pay full price for drugs such as Tamiflu, which is around £100 - the same as it costs online, although at least you would know the medicine is not fake.

Do you think the NHS is doing the best it can or do you worry that with the extra flu patients inundating the service it would be better to go private? Leave a comment and tell us your thoughts.