Everybody has the right to pay privately for medical advice – and with an online consultation and prescription delivered to your door for as little as £29.95 it can be a whole lot cheaper than you think.
In theory we live in this great welfare state with the NHS as the mother of all free provisions. Most of the time the term NHS stands for a National Health Service that can work quite brilliantly. But sometimes it tends to mean National Health SUCKS – you have to wait some time to see your GP and often then you get an inconvenient 10 minute appointment that means time off from work or studying and the inconvenience of having to get there. Sometimes a ‘service’ it most definitely is not.
In part that’s understandable – Doctors have to give their attention to those who are most ill most often and that tends to be the old and the very young. Of course if you get some chronic illness when you’re young you get in the system and expect to be seen regularly. Actually health and wellbeing is very much about expectation management.
The fact is the health system generally expects young people to be well. We should have good immune systems. Most day to day problems will be viruses where all we need is a few days under the duvet and a bowl of soup – be honest, Heinz cream of tomato cures most things. But this doesn’t always work. Sometimes you just need to contact somebody.
There are any number of things that might be an emergency for you which don’t really count as an emergency for the health service. You may want urgent attention, but you’ll be coming some way, or a long way, down their list.
All this really falls into a medical category that can perhaps best described as ‘shit happens’. It’s just like dropping your mobile phone down the loo, forgetting your killer heels for that hot date, spilling coffee down your shirt the morning of the interview, or having somebody throw up all over your Mum’s best coat the night you have a party round yours because your parents were away.
As ever, it’s the web that has changed everything. Obviously you wouldn’t want an online consultation for a dislocated shoulder. But when it comes to a repeat prescription for your pills or asthma, or something a bit more industrial strength for you acne or hay fever, that’s not an issue. The key is to find an online consultation service that selects reputable doctors. We’re writing this piece because we came across some guys that run a business called The Online Clinic, which has been going since 2004, and which is absolutely pukka as it’s verified by the Care Quality Commission.
The Online Clinic also has a sister clinic that offers private STI testing – cunningly called The STI Clinic. You simply contact them online and they’ll send you a testing kit (it’s very discrete). Do the test, send it back, and you normally get the result within 24 hours of it reaching their laboratory – generally much quicker than from a GUM clinic and a lot less hassle.
If your test proves positive they will then prescribe the appropriate medication and send it to you in another discrete package.
Obviously a service this good – it operates round-the-clock 24/7 – doesn’t come free, but all things considered the costs are reasonable:
All prices include the cost of the private prescription and the postal charges for guaranteed next day delivery. Prices may change if the dosage changes (as generally the more you buy, the less a unit will cost you). Any prescriptions dispensed by 4.00 pm will be guaranteed to be delivered on the next working day.
It seems to us that young people often come off worst. Up until the time you’re 16 you pretty much have to go with your Mum anyway. After that you can go by yourself but it can be pretty intimidating. Even when you get to Uni going to the doctor is not always straightforward – one of the DW team tells the story of trying to get an appointment at his Uni health centre on a Monday after being ill all weekend only to be told the first appointment was on the Friday. He ended up having to go to the nearest large town to find an emergency NHS walk-in centre.
If you’re faced with a real emergency – broken arm, concussion, ruptured appendix and the like – the NHS works wonderfully. But there are other sorts of emergencies. What if your handbag gets lost or stolen and has your contraceptive pills in it and you’re away from home and can’t find a clinic? What if you’re not on the pill and the condom broke last night in the middle of that hot sex so you need emergency contraception? Oh, and you think you’d better have an STI test as it was the first time and you don’t know each other yet?
What if you’ve got really important exams, your hay fever is making life really insufferable and the normal meds don’t work? Or you left your asthma inhaler at home by mistake and you’re about to go on a four day charity bike ride? Or you’ve been asked to be chief bridesmaid and your best mate’s wedding but your acne is going through a really bad spell and you just can’t face up to it?
The problem with this shit is that it’s your shit and nobody else is going to look after it for you. Actually, and you already know this, when an ‘oh shit’ problem needs urgent attention it can normally be remedied by spending money. You pay for a new phone, a new pair of heels, a new shirt, dry clean the coat, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Medical ‘shit’ is no different. If you’re happy to pay you can normally get a quick fix. The thing is that most of us think private medicine costs a fortune. If you’re thinking of a hip replacement or a boob-job you’re probably not wrong. But if you need some day-to-day medical attention it can be so simple and so inexpensive it’s well worth it.
Quite simply The Online Clinic offers a medical consultation service over the internet. You fill in your details for free and then, if their doctors (all UK licensed GPs) think it’s appropriate to prescribe to you, they’ll provide a prescription from their own pharmacy which will send out whatever you need by Royal Mail Special Delivery the same day. Everything is done through a secure network accessible only via logging in after the registration.
Generally, with things like ‘the pill’ or asthma, they’ll want to know you have already been seen by your Doctor for the first prescription and that this is a repeat – although if your current pill isn’t working they’ll happily discuss changing it. The Morning-after-Pill is quite straightforward. With conditions like acne they may ask you to take a photo and send it to them via their secure network.
It may be worth ‘going private’ simply because it’s more convenient and faster. It may be in an emergency that you don’t really have an option. Then again you may choose this option simply because you don’t want anybody else to know your business – not everybody wants to take the risk of all and sundry knowing what you’re doing with your private life and health.
It’s fair to say that any NHS provision is entirely confidential. What goes on between you and your doctor or clinic stays between you and your doctor or clinic. But you never can tell who you might bump into on the way in or out, or in a waiting room. And probably the last thing you want to do is walk into your local chemist for the Morning-after-Pill and be served by your friend’s Auntie. Online consultation and testing guarantees you anonymity.
Any consultation with The Online Clinic is free and no money is involved until you agree to order and pay for your prescription. At the moment prescriptions can only be dispensed online for those over the age of 18 and you will be required to give your date of birth. However no formal identification is required.