Monday, 4 November 2013

No wonder our National Health Service is the envy of the world!

I need to have my right ear syringed. My hearing's been deteriorating for the past few months, which is a sure sign that action is required.  I went and bought an ear-wax softening kit, knowing that my local surgery will only perform the procedure if the patient has spent ten days ensuring the wax is easy to remove. Yesterday, after a week of squirting stuff into the relevant ear, it gummed up completely - I now can't hear anything. No panic - this is normal.

So I phone up my local GP this morning to book an appointment with the practice nurse. They can't fit me in for SIX WEEKS. I point out that I'm due to see the nurse next week for routine blood tests, so she can syringe my ear then. No, it would take too long. I tell them it took her approximately 90 seconds to unblock it when I last had this done, about five years' ago. No - it would take too long! When I say that I'm unhappy at having to walk around for one and half months feeling like there's a sock stuck in my ear (which makes concentrating on anything impossible) I'm told there's a clinic I can visit in the centre of town. Grateful, I take down the details and am about to ring off when a thought strikes me: this is, of course, all on the NHS? No, it's a private clinic and I will have to pay for a "consultation" plus another payment for the syringing.

A consultation??? To establish what I already know - that there's too much wax in my right ear? Given I've been paying into the NHS for the past 38 years, why the hell should I be expected to pay extra for a purely routine procedure that takes a couple of minutes?

No wonder the rest of the world envies our fabulous patient-centric system. I expect the Gernmans have to wait at least a year to get their ear wax removed. As for the French, they probably have to spend a decade walking around feeling as though someone has stuffed a baguette down their lug-hole.

And no wonder the Americans have decided to emulate a health-care system that provides such wonderful levels of care for those lucky blighters who fund it. Maybe I should pretend to be a health tourist - I'd probably get seen right away.


  1. My sympathies. The jury is firmly out on OTC ear-wax softening brands. Try a few drops of olive oil for 2-3 days [extra virgin is best]. To relieve temporary discomfort apply a thin layer of hydrocortisone cream with a cotton bud inside the ear.

    1. Thanks for the advice, doc - I'm told there's no point in doing ear-wax softening until ten days before the syringing is due to take place, so I'll start using the olive oil and the hyrdrocortisone cream next month, as you recommend... not sticking more liquid in the ear has relieved the discomfort somewhat.