Welcome to the online diary of the “London Ziegs,” as they journal their experiences relocating from the balmy climes of sunny Orlando, Florida to the more chaotically cosmopolitan environment of London, UK!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Rx Redux

This week was the first time we tried to get a refill on some of the medication we brought along from the U.S. Desiring to postpone this as far as possible, we had hit up our Florida doctors and pharmacists for "vacation allowances"...basically, letting us stock up on as many doses as they'd give us. However, nothing lasts forever, and last week Jonathan's Flovent (asthma) inhaler ran out. So, it was time to give NHS another test...

...which turned out to go quite well. Since Jonathan was expected to start school at 8.40am, the local "surgery" (all doctor's offices are called "surgeries" here, rather disconcertingly at first take) conveniently scheduled our appointment for 7.55am, a bit before they normally receive patients. Jonathan and I arrived at 7.45am, and they cheerfully let us in from the cold.

The G.P. was exceedingly cordial, and simply asked what was needed. Laura had dropped off copies of Jonathan's medical records a week or so prior, so perhaps he had already reviewed Jonathan's history; or maybe they are always this receptive. Anyway, I showed him the printout our St. Cloud pharmacist had produced with our two-year prescription history, and indicated the units we needed renewed.

"Flovent," he repeated thoughtfully. "Floooooovent," rolling the sound around his tongue like a novel sweet. "Don't think we carry that one, but let's have a look." So saying, he pulled down a mammoth tome of international drug data, and peered through the densely printed index until he declared "Ah-hah!...so that's what it is. Yes, I think we can offer a comparable equivalent...but at 100µ...let's see, convert that and carry the three...yes, this ought to do it!"

With a flourish, he presented the newly translated prescription, ready for delivery to the neighborhood pharmacist alchemist chemist. There was no fee for the visit, nor, I'm told, do kids need to pay for prescriptions: NHS putting our taxes to work, in a convenience I'm admittingly coming to enjoy.

(Yes, it's nice to have a "choice" in picking your doctors and providers in America, but so far the default selections have been more than adequate in the U.K.; and let's face it, NOBODY likes figuring out and paying medical bills, especially as you know they tend to over-charge, with the expectation that receiving insurance companies will winnow down the approved bill anyway. Taking me out of that rather ugly loop is a frank relief. Now the ghost of Ayn Rand, as embodied by the vitriolic spirit of Neal Boortz, can jump down my throat and tell me how I'm giving all my hard-won freedoms away for a bit of convenience...)


  1. I had the same experience when visiting my local GP first moving to Britain. I had an American drug I wanted renewed here. Sadly the NHS didn't have it...which really means that its too expensive in codespeak!! It was such a disappointment. I still haven't found a substitute that works.
    But, on the flip side, I don't have to pay medical insurance any more.
    Oh , and when I was visiting my family back in the USA this Christmas, I had forgotten how many drugs are advertised on the TV!! I then had this longing for a competitive drug industry in Britain too. Sigh.

  2. Aaah. . .so jealous. I would gladly give up that particular "freedom" if my daughter could have the "freedom" to breathe. Our so-called choice is to either pay well over $1000 per month so we can see a doctor a couple of times a year & have the joy of purchasing an outrageously overpriced,airway-opening medication from those competitive drug companies OR go w/o insurance and spend around $500 per month on just the meds. Either way--my daughter needs to breathe. So there is no choice.
    In the meantime I will live vicariously through expats blogs. Thank you for yours!

  3. Hope you felt me shudder when I just read that post.