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Friday January 30, 2009

A clinical view

Like many, our son suffered the dreaded gripe, flu, after Christmas and in a panic late one night, we rushed to the local 24 hour clinic for a medical assessment. Ollie had a raging temperature and we wanted reassurance from a doctor. I also worried that he might have malaria symptoms from our recent trip to Sri Lanka. Treated courteously by the receptionist we waited fifteen minutes and were shown into the doctor. There were three on duty and the one allotted to us-oh joy of joys-was American with a great sense of humour. He took Ollie’s temperature and performed various medical tests and told us that he had bad flu but would be OK. We needed to get his temperature down with ibuprofen and for him to take lots of fluids. He discounted malaria but told me that if his condition for any reason got worse, I could have extensive checks done in Palma. We did as instructed and by morning he was hugely improved.

In town the other day, regulars in my café, the newsagent and in the bakery expressed shock that I’d gone to the local clinic. They were outraged that I’d had to wait fifteen minutes and asked why we hadn’t driven to a big hospital in Palma or seen a private doctor. They argued that the clinic was national health and the care might be questionable. I was genuinely shocked. I explained to them that in the UK you’d be lucky to see a doctor at all, let alone within fifteen minutes, and told them how impressed we’d been with the level of care and the wonderful doctor on call. Surely you have private medical insurance they said? These clinics, they told me were for people with no income or who were on social security. I had to laugh. Once again it reminded me of how third world the UK has become and how spoilt my local neighbours are! If one of my Mallorcan friends stepped into an A&E ward in a London hospital in the dead of night they’d get the shock of their lives. We are lucky to enjoy the fantastic medical services that this splendid island provides and for this, whatever anyone else tells me, I shall remain truly grateful.

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