Me +1: I Love The NHS, But Sometimes Private Is Right For My Daughter

Danielle Perry is a radio presenter at Absolute Radio, a band manager, DJ, podcaster and writer for Q Magazine. She’s also a new mum to baby Etta. Although life has changed somewhat, there is a common ground between everything and that’s what she’s going to be writing about in this new column, 'Me +1'. She’s not going to be banging on about sensory classes or Peppa Pig – but the way our interests, styles and passions shift throughout our lives and how it is possible to not lose any of your identity or fun with the impending feeling of being a proper grown up.

I am a staunch supporter of our National Health Service. Coming from a family of nurses and authors of some nursing literature, I totally admire the service and think it should be celebrated and protected as much as we can. All my friends and social circle love it too. We’re a generation that has grown up in the privileged position of having healthcare at our beck and call and right on our doorstep.

However recently I, for the first time, chose to pay for private medical care. And it was for a highly debated immunisation for babies that was offered by the NHS, then wasn’t, then might be, then was again. I spent weeks going round and round in circles on the phone. Calling this person, then that person, then their supervisor, then someone altogether different. There was no clear message from anyone and in the end I had to resort to Doctor Google to answer my queries.

In a nutshell, babies are only routinely offered a BCG vaccination if you live in a certain area. Then that changed to living within a certain area, under this many months of age. Then that changed again to all babies being offered it, then a national shortage. It went on and on for what seemed like forever so in the end I made an appointment with the most reassuring pediatric doctor who assured me that, yes, if it was his child, he would absolutely pay to go private to ensure his children had this jab.

So I did it. Miss Gemini-can’t-make-decisions did some research, read some reviews and hit ‘BOOK’ I have never felt so responsible and terrified. When you go to your surgery for routine jabs and tests you have this reassurance that it is the NHS. They’ve done this a million times before and they know what they’re doing. Privately I just trusted reviews from strangers and a few well-placed quotes from a few broadsheets. I was paranoid that I was taking her to an unauthorised establishment. Anxiety overload.

When I arrived I couldn’t have been more surprised, or pleased. The whole experience was pleasant, on time and professional. Everything went well and I felt it was thorough and I didn’t flinch about the experience at all once we got going.

There’s been a lot in the press over the past week about mixed wards and the need to focus on the privacy of each patient and to, if nothing else, ensure everyone feels their dignity is paramount. So the benefits of private health care – such as private rooms, shorter waiting lists, access to drugs not readily available on the NHS, 24-hour phone support, 24/7-visitor access – make it pretty tempting. But the price tag can be a little eye-watering.

But through writing this I’ve come to realise that we rely on our NHS more than we think we do. There’s one thing that money can’t buy and that’s trust. I’ve been lucky with my doctors, especially recently, (I know not everyone is) and I don’t really want to steer down the private route if I’m honest. I want to support the backbone of this country and see it continue to thrive. And please do forgive me if any details are inaccurate - I am merely a patient like anyone else, and I have no idea how people run a mothership like the NHS to begin with. Quite a big operation that one. PARDON THE PUN.

Listen to Absolute Radio at absoluteradio.co.uk and catch Danielle Perry 4-6pm Weekdays on Absolute Radio, and on The Sunday Night Music Club - 8pm - 12am.


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