Yesterday I had one of my regular visits to the gynae - one of the joys of being a woman I guess! Still, I suppose you get used to it and while just like the dentist it is never fun, keeping up with your routine check-ups, to my mind, far outweighs the alternative of sticking your head in the sand.
When I came back from St. Lucia I noticed a small, burn-like mark on my right inner thigh. At first I thought I had scratched myself but this "blemish" just didn't go away and almost looked like a blister. There had been nothing there before - no freckle, no birthmark, etc. - so after a while it began to bother me since I realized that you should be aware of what your skin looks like "on a normal day". On top of that, I had been daft enough to burn in St. Lucia so I decided to keep an eye on it.
So while I was at the gynae's I'm lying there thinking "well, he's a doctor and since his head is down that way anyway ....." What do you do? Do you think "in for a penny, in for a pound" or do you stick to the job at hand? I guess one of the joys of getting older is that in the end you really don't give too much of a shit about what it looks like so eventually I asked him what he thought. He said he didn't think it was anything to worry about but since it had appeared suddenly and was not going away maybe it would be a good idea to check it out with a dermatologist. When I got back to work, I got the name of a dermatologist from the phone book, called up and have an appointment in a couple of days time.
The reason behind this rambling is because it got me to thinking how fortunate we are here in Geneva to call up to make an appointment to see a doctor and get an appointment in the next couple of days. It certainly isn't like that in France, I can tell you, and from what I understand it isn't like that in the U.K. either. I mean, in France you need to make your gynae or optician's appointment 6-9 months in advance and while that is probably ok if it is just routine stuff, what do you do if it is more urgent?
Of course the reason it is easier in Switzerland is because it is privatized medicine; moreover it is far from cheap! We are very lucky to have excellent medical insurance through work and I was discussing this with my colleague afterwards. The cunning business plan that came to me while sitting on the bus was that say, for instance in the U.K., if you needed to see a doctor but could wait a week, well then that was fine and your visit should continue to be free. (Yes I know it's not free, it's paid through your taxes, but bear with me here). But say you were worried about something and really wanted to get in to see the doctor within the next 48 hours - how about proposing a small charge - say £10 for that "speedy" visit. The logic here being that the £10 charge might stop some people who really didn't need to see the doctor from clogging up the surgery time.
So then we were on a roll. Now non-urgent visits would continue to be free and urgent visits would be charged a flat rate of £10. Then my colleague chipped in that, better still, if it turned out that you hadn't been wasting the doctor's valuable time and that you really did have something seriously wrong with you, well then you would get your £10 back.
We both looked at each other and she said "well there's good news and bad news. The good news is 'here's your £10 back', the bad news is ....." and we both burst into fits of laughter ("sorry mate but it's terminal").
Somehow I think our master business plan needs a little fine-tuning!