This is a summary and conclusion of how I spent yesterday getting a glimpse into how the Dutch healthcare system cares for people. Yesterday was furthermore the Swedish “independence day” and me and my girlfriend spent pretty much the whole day in the ER of Amsterdam’s largest teaching hospital.
My idea before this was that since I’m paying near 90 euros each and every month for health insurance (and that’s fairly cheap), the whole thing should be a nice and comfortable experience. Turns out it was just as shitty as any other European healthcare I have (or haven’t) received.
First of all, no matter how much pain you are in on a Sunday, the hospital will try to get you to wait until Monday and go see your general practitioner. I got to see a nurse in the hospital and he took my details and asked me what the problem was, before sending me to the hospital emergency GP since he had less waiting time than the ER doctors.
The GP at the hospital seemed to most of all want to get rid of me. He told me there was absolutely nothing he could do about my serious chronic scoliosis (back-rotation) pain, and the fact that I was sitting in a wheelchair and could barely walk. He would not even prescribe me pain medication and obviously didn’t care if I lived or died.
When asked how bad the pain had to become before I would get any help in a Dutch hospital, the GP did not reply. He just proceeded to tell us with a racist tone of voice that “in The Netherlands, it works like this”. I’ve lived here for two years, I’m a Dutch and European citizen, I pay for health insurance, I pay taxes and run a company that contributes to the economy. I know very well how it works.
So back we went to the nurse since he was a lot more positive and kind, and we explained that I wanted to be seen by a real doctor and not a jack-ass. After a couple of hours of waiting, we were finally brought out of the waiting room again, into a room where another nurse checked my blood pressure. Then we had to wait for 15 more minutes.
Eventually I got a nice doctor to look at me. She concluded that I actually did need pain medication and even a sleeping pill so that I could get some sleep for the night. She told me she would prescribe a morphine pill, a sleeping pill, and an anti-inflammatory diklofenac (Voltaren) just for the night and then I would go to my GP in the morning. Fair enough.
However, after another round of waiting, I got two pills and no description of what they were for. I identified one of them to be a benzodiazepine and therefore a sleeping pill, and the other one was the diklofenac. The most important painkiller, the morphine, was nowhere to be found so we kindly asked the nurse who brought us the pills where it was. She had no idea and went to talk to the doctor.
After a while, she came back with a prescription, awesome. Now we only had to go to the pharmacy to get my pills and I could go home and get some sleep. Off we went next door and left the prescription to the lady in the pharmacy. After yet another round of waiting for these people to have fun and chit-chat, she returned with a pack of diklofenac.
That’s when I gave up and we returned home without the morphine or any other pain medication that would have actually worked. All in all, me and my girlfriend spend five hours visiting the hospital and got no help at all.
I already have fairly strong pain medication prescribed but it doesn’t even touch this pain. The sleeping pill helped somewhat but I still woke up in pain two times during the night and had a hard time going back to sleep.
It really feels worthless to pay this much money for health insurance when the GP clearly doesn’t even want to help, and the doctor is so sloppy she can’t prescribe the medication she promises. So that’s day six of #30daysofcreativity—spending 5 hours in the ER with no result.
Today I went to my GP like I was told but apparently it’s impossible to get an appointment until tomorrow anyway. The story will continue tomorrow. My GP is usually pretty okay so hopefully she’ll send me to a back specialist that can cut me open and fix me so that I can lead a normal life.