S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen

Comparative registration

When I registered with a doctor in Canada, I was a student. I was allowed to use the university's health services. It was a large operation, five days a week with continuous hours, always someone available, drop-in appointments, and supplementary services all in one place. The day of my first appointment, they poked and prodded and took three vials of blood so that they could recreate my immunization records from it. (It hadn't occured to me to bring them with me to another country.) It was sloppily done - the bruise lasted for three weeks.

I finally got around to registering with a GP (aka General Practitioner aka a doctor) this week here in the UK. It was an unexpected challenge in some ways. The NHS website has a lookup for one's geographically closest GPs, but those which are closest are not necessarily the ones one is allowed to register with. In my case, it wasn't. The receptionist gave me a phone number to call (since there was no way to look it up on line). I called Find-a-doc with my telephone number and post code, and two hours later, they called me back with the list of three possible GPs I was allowed to use.

The next step is to call and see if the GP is taking on new patients. Luckily, I was okay on the first call with that one. The step after that is to come in to collect paperwork. Oh, and they're closed from 1 to 4 every day. And Thursday afternoons - when I made my first attempt to go collect the paperwork last week. After I collected paperwork, I had to go away and fill it out. Then I could go back again, with the paperwork, hand it over, and request a registration appointment. At this point, they highly recommended I go to a different branch of their practice since it was closest to me. So I went to the other practice, where the paperwork was already half-done, and made my appointment. After this, it was very friendly and helpful and didn't involved giving up three vials of my blood. In a heart-warming turn, the nurse even pronounced my name correctly!

Still, for all the lovely, friendly people, I'm not hugely impressed. It took me three trips to the GP just to get registered, four if you count going to two different branches while mid-paperworking (and not even counting my attempt on Thursday afternoon to pick up papers when it was closed). The practice is closed for three hours in the middle of the day. Drop-ins are non-existant. And being close - give or take practice areas - seems to be The Most Important Thing about registering with a GP here. The GP can even collect a rural allowance if they are more than 1 mile away from their patient.

Note: I have no idea how this experience compares to registering normally in Canada or in the US.
Tags: two sides of one ocean
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