I forgot to blog about my latest episode of health tourism.
In my last fortnight in the UK I managed to get a kidney infection. The doctor said it probably wasn't kidney stones. Even I had got as far as working out that it might be kidney stones, using NHS Direct, since I already had the gall bladder and stones out when I was living in Greece. His reasoning was that it went away after a course of antibiotics, so it probably was only an infection. I didn't find this very comforting, since it could easily come back, if he was wrong, and it could be very painful, if I was a long way from a decent hospital. So not wanting to wait for the NHS to decide when it would deign to see me, I organised to see a Bosnian doctor who came recommended by my American friend who has been there for years.
One phone call and I had an appointment next day. After a taxi ride to the new Avaz Business Centre, half an hour and a payment of 25 Euros later, I had a letter and pictures to prove I had a small kidney stone, nothing to worry about. The doctor said it could be washed out by drinking lots of tea. The letter is in Bosanski, but the pictures are in English. My kidneys are apparently in good shape for my age.
Of course the British treatment of saying that if I thought I was better, I was better, and there was nothing else to do, may be cheaper. But is it really reassuring? OK, not everybody has to worry about the risk of agonising pain when you are in a country where the health service is not so good. I suppose if you can get to a hospital in 20 minutes and get good treatment, then spending 25 Euros to be sure of the diagnosis is arguably an unnecessary extra expense. But they have the equipment anyway, and is it used to full capacity? I bet not.
But if ordinary GPs' surgeries in Bosnia and Lithuania can afford ultrasound scanners, why can't British ones? Isn't it better to diagnose if there is really is a problem, rather than just to hope it will not come back. Ultrasound is not so special these days.