Friday, September 17, 2010

Health care Thai style

Ask someone who isn't from either Ireland or Thailand which health care system they would guess would be more efficient, better organised and have higher hygiene standards. Chances are they'd plump for Ireland and the truth is that they'd be ridiculously wrong. It wasn’t that I willingly wanted to do a case study to compare our respective health services - my visit was out of necessity. Ever since my diving experience my ears have felt like I’m still underwater and one week after diving with no sign of things clearing up, I decided to get things checked out. Ear infections have a wonderful way of fucking up what is already a tight schedule. My hospital of choice i.e. the first one I walked past was, funnily enough, the auspiciously titled Bangkok Christian hospital. Walked up to information, described my affliction and was led through the hospital to the registration desk by a sweet, smiling staff member - it was difficult already not to draw comparisons with Ireland. Filled out a form and was led from there to the ear, nose and throat department. Sat and waited for 10 minutes, during which time I was given my own personal laminated client card for future visits. Was examined by the doc, he shoved some cotton way WAY too far up my nose and was asked to come back in in 10 minutes. Exactly 10 minutes later - I checked - he brought me back in, told me what the problem was - still some water stuck between my ears and my nose - how to treat it, wrote out a prescription and sent me on my way. From there I was led to where I could collect my prescription and pay for the whole experience. The entire process from walking through the doors of the hospital to receiving a receipt for payment took 45 minutes. Now as anyone familiar with Irish A & E could tell you, this was a masterful exercise in efficiency - actually they'd probably suggest that it was impossible. And how much did all of this cost? My total came to 550 baht (that’s €14) which included consultation and my medication. Phenomenal.
Through the entire thing I thought of home and vomiting bugs, waiting lists, misdiagnoses, Mary fucking Harney and the HSE - an organisation that could only be conceived of in dear old fucking Ireland. None of this is a slight on the people working in a health system at home that's patently useless and getting worse. Coincidentally I had heard reports of our mighty leader’s alleged drunken radio interview just the day before. Now what surprised me about this is that it seems to have surprised the nation. Surely being Taoiseach of a country in a mess like ours is (which he helped to create naturally), getting bladdered before going to work is a necessity. I wouldn’t be surprised if the man is chasing the dragon on a daily basis before heading off to work for the morning. Ah if only we were French.

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