Health care is an important factor that needs to be considered carefully when moving abroad. A lot of people have a tendency to assume that they are going to receive the same standard of health care that they are used to in their home country, but, unfortunately, this is rarely the case. One area where countries differ dramatically is in regards to GP waiting times. Keeping that in mind, read on to discover all you need to know about the different GP waiting times experienced around the world.
Let’s begin with the UK, where the GP waiting times have been described as a ‘national disgrace’. The NHS has long been championed as one of the better public healthcare systems on a global scale. However, demand is now outweighing supplying by a monumental degree, and the public system simply cannot cope, which is why the waiting lists are extortionate. If that was not bad enough, a recent NHS survey concluded that almost 11 per cent of people were not able to get a GP appointment the last time they tried.
These long waiting lists are reducing the quality of care that is provided in the UK because it means that there is a risk that illnesses will not be spotted quickly enough, and, therefore, illnesses that could have been prevented have been allowed to develop. It is hard to see where changes are going to come from as well, because the simple fact is that there are not enough GPs in the UK, and therefore they cannot reach the demand for their services – a level of demand that is rising all of the time. Consequently, the GPs that are available are overstretched and overworked, which is never good for quality care.
From horrendous waiting times to impressive waiting times, the Netherlands may only be a short plane journey from the UK, but the difference in terms of waiting times is astounding. In fact, the Netherlands was recently voted as the best European country to live in terms of healthcare, according to the Euro Health Consumer Index. Accessibility to health care actually used to be a weak point for the Netherlands; however, this is certainly no longer the case. The government has set up approximately 160 care centres to combat this issue, a lot of which have surgeries that are open all of the time – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This has reduced the waiting times significantly, ensuring that everyone can benefit from the health care they need when they require it.
Other European countries that are impressive in terms of overall health care and GP waiting times are Switzerland, Norway, and Finland. However, reports do indicate that while waiting times for emergency treatments and such like are dealt with efficiently in Norway, there are cases when patients have to wait a few weeks for lesser treatments. Out of the Scandinavian countries, Denmark probably lags slightly behind in terms of waiting times, yet they are making an effort to combat this, and in some areas, patients are now billed if they cancel a doctor’s appointment with less than day’s notice or if they miss their GP appointment altogether.
One country that impresses when it comes to GP waiting times is Belgium. A lot of people state that they do not even need to book an appointment; they can simply turn up and wait for an available space, which usually won’t take too long. Moreover, a lot of practices provide a service where patients are available to see the hours and current status of their GP on the Internet, so they know whether it is a good time to take a trip to the practice.
The interesting difference in Germany, when compared with other countries, is the fact that you can just go straight to see a specialist if you think you have a fairly serious problem, such as a fracture, you don’t need to be referred by your GP. Feedback states that this is working well in the big cities, but failing to have the desired impact in rural areas.
France also fairs considerably well when it comes to GP waiting times, with most people guaranteed a same-day appointment if they call up the practice to arrange it. A lot of individuals simply turn up and wait, although you can find yourself waiting for an hour or longer, which is why it is better to book your appointment. However, the situation does not fair so well in Spain, where the press have reported that there is a wait for GP appointments of 15 days and sometimes even longer.
What about the rest of the world? Well, Asia is a continent that is really progressing at a rapid pace. Singapore, especially, is known as Southeast Asia’s centre of medical excellence, and it is not hard to see why. It sits at number 6 in the WHO World Health Report. Malaysia is another recommended place for expats in terms of healthcare. A lot of expats are looking for Central residence, as they are moving for work opportunities, and this then gives them access to both public and private hospitals with doctors who speak English.
From the terrible waiting times in the United Kingdom to the impressive waiting times in the Netherlands, it is clear to see that you do not have to travel far to see massive differences.