England has nationalized health care that is completely free. As an American, this concept is completely strange (but wonderful) to me. I have always wondered about the quality and efficency of the NHS. Unfortunately, last night we found out.
Yesterday, my parents decided to take a day trip to Stongehenge and Bath. They had a wonderful day vieiwing the rocks (as my dad calls them) and wondering the beautiful town of Bath. The day took a turn for the worse as they were walking back to the bus at the very end of tour (just a few more minutes and they would have been home free). My Mom took a bad fall (we think she stepped on the curb or tripped on uneven pavement) and immediately knew that something was wrong with her shoulder and/or wrist.
Jiggy met them at their drop-off point and the three of them took a cab (a bumpy London cab ride is not so good when you have a busted shoulder) to the Royal Free Hospital. Only a five minute walk from our flat, I provided back-up in terms of comfy clothes and moral support. My mom was quickly checked in and saw a nurse within 15 minutes. The nurse assessment was followed with x-rays and a visit with the doctor. The result was a broken shoulder AND wrist. Another nurse then fitted her with a sling and provided some much needed painkillers! The whole process surprising took less than 3 hours and the entire staff at the Royal Free was efficient, kind, and knowledgable. Due to the type of break in my mom's shoulder, there is nothing that can be done but rest and a sling. The wrist, apparently is a different story. She supposedly broke it at an angle and needs to wait a week to have another x-ray taken. Next week's x-ray will determine if she needs to have surgery (keep your fingers crossed that a cast will do the trick). Not once did they ask my Mom for a health insurance card or form of payment. We walked out of there without giving them a thing except name, phone number, and our flat address (let's hope that one huge bill does not arrive in the post in a few weeks). Amazing!
Obviously, I feel horrible for my Mom. For something like this to happen away from home and during Christmas is not fun. Umm...maybe this was her way of getting out of cooking Christmas dinner. If she did not want to cook, all she had to do was say so. She did not have to go to such extreme measures. The one upside to this whole incident is that I get to have my parents in town for at least one more week. Oh, and it looks like I will be cooking my first Christmas dinner.