So yesterday we decided (need to) access health care here. Not only did this mean navigating the line between medicare and travel insurance and private health insurance and reciprocal health-care agreements between states, finding a health care provider at the right level, and getting to it… but it meant doing all of this on Good Friday. Now Canberra is known for having pretty terrible bus services at the weekend, and on bank holidays its no different… or a little bit worse. So that was a challenge. Fortunately enough we were well enough to walk part of the distance and it was a gloriously sunny, warm, early autumn day. Which made it more bearable.
Again, I am reminded by the awesomeness of the NHS. Sure you might have to wait a while. And maybe if you are international there are charges applied. But… well, navigating a new system was always going to be a bit scary and needing to do so, if not in an emergency, then in urgency made life that bit more exciting!
The irony is that on Thursday I had been speaking to some colleagues at work, and the HR department trying to untangle the apparently contradictory advice on my visa about healthcare/private health insurance, and to get an idea what some of the different terms means: what the hell, for example, is gap cover? What services, if any, can we get without insurance? How do you know what sort of cover you need? If I need prescriptions how do I get them? How do I register for a doctor- do I need insurance to do that? Can I choose whoever I want? Are there catchment areas?!
So I’d rinsed my befuzzled colleagues for all of their knowledge, made the decision to look into insurance the following week after a work deadline… and then we ended up needing healthcare before then anyways! In the end it wasn’t too bad. We found an out of hours service that did appointments that was only an hours’s bus ride away (!), we found that you only pay for the consultation fee not the medication/injection/bandage that you get during the consultation, we found that on the Easter Bank Holiday weekend pretty much EVERY hospital department except A&E closes down, which makes getting follow up urgent appointments difficult to make. But everyone was sweet and friendly. The doctor was a little random and I initially thought he was a patient of perhaps a hospital porter… but there you go!
On the major plus side, in the hospital where they had some ‘dead’ space between corridors some friends of the hospital, or staff I can’t remember which, had made an aviary full of brightly coloured birds (and some pretty rocking lizards) which kept me thoroughly entertained during our relatively short waits. They called the space ‘Wildlife Therapy’ and it was just glorious- what a fantastic distraction from why you are in a hospital! Finches, budgies, cockatoos, parrots, and some truly impressive pheasant things… sorry, I’m a bit ornithologically challenged here… but have some photos instead! (Sorry about the low quality pics… it was sunny, there was glass, I only had my phone… etc)