For some reason, we were disorganised before we set off on our New Zealand travels. Normally I am very organised, with plans made, things booked long before we get on the plane. This trip – I failed miserably. We knew we were going away with our family the last week of our trip, but it only got booked because my daughter-in-law J organised it! I blame retirement myself, it takes the urgency out of things. For the workers, i.e. our kids, they need to know when to book holidays etc. For our first trip, I was still working, and everything was nailed down, weeks in advance.
We got here in one piece, I had been trying to get rid of a cough before I left, thought I had cracked it, but it didn’t like 40 hours travel, and I have coughed pretty continuously since getting off the last plane…. So, the first thing I didn’t expect to be doing when I started the latest trip as part of our Retirement Travels, was finding out what the New Zealand health service was like.
The answer is – pretty good! Very efficient.
- my son rang the doctors on Tuesday afternoon. The surgery he attends runs both an appointment schedule, and a walk-in clinic, but the walk-in clinic that afternoon was busy with a 2 hour delay. As I was not a member at the practice, I could not get an appointment, but could turn up at the walk-in clinic. So we decided to go first thing on Wednesday.
- Wednesday 8am, I was at the surgery, filled in a form, paid NZ $99. I saw a nurse, got my details taken, my blood pressure etc checked, asked to take a seat for a few minutes. Then saw the doctor. Consultation over, prescription obtained.
- The pharmacy adjoined the surgery, NZ$25 for the prescription. 2 minutes dispense time.
Compare that to my Edinburgh experience
- 8am on the dot, start phoning the surgery. Put it on repeat speed dial. Continue for at least 10 minutes. If you’re lucky, you get through before all the appointments for the day are used up. You cannot get an appointment for a few days ahead. Even with the system of only making appointments on the day, there are still a lot of no-shows.
- you turn up for your appointment. The doctor takes your blood pressure, does any necessary checks as well as the examination for the complaint.
- If you need blood taken, you need to make a separate appointment with the nurse.
- If you need a prescription, you go and find a pharmacy near your doctors.
So maybe the NHS could learn something about process management. We also get told how impossible it is for a doctor’s practice to charge patients. The process for paying for my consultation was extremely simple. Definitely not rocket science.
Our travels haven’t really started yet. We were still a tad jet-lagged for Hogmanay, and just managed to stay awake for ‘the bells’. We were at a lovely barbecue. It was warm, we were able to sit outside. We opted out of going to a firework display, and were collapsed in bed by 5 past midnight. The next day was glorious, as we were sitting in the sun having another barbecue in the sun, I was looking at pictures of Edinburgh, everyone enjoying themselves, but with hats, scarves, coats and gloves on. Blissful really. The only problem is that I have a dreadful cough (see note re Doctor’s above), and when I laugh, I cough and cough and cough…..
We have finally got round to planning the next stage of our trip. Sunday we pick up our hire car from Jucy which we have used before. We have gone for the cheapest possible car, ‘El Cheapo’, which might yet prove interesting. In the UK, the majority of cars are Manual (stick shift?), rather than Automatic. So neither my husband nor I drive an automatic. So if it is an automatic, you will see us ‘kangarooing’ up the road, as we reach for the non-existent clutch and hit the brake instead!
On Monday we will set off for Greymouth and the West Coast road, down to Franz Josef Glacier & Fox Glacier, stay a night there. Then we drive on to Alexandra, stay a night there. Then finally off to Invercargill & Bluff, the most southerly part of the South Island, and back up to stay with friends in Mossgiel, near Dunedin. Effectively we are driving through some amazing scenery, with stops to sleep. Every bend in the road, brings another stunning view. Friday brings us back to Christchurch, then off to Wellington for a few days to see my husband’s nephew and his family, which will be good fun. We haven’t seen them for 18 months, and the children grow so fast.
Our last week will be spent up in the Bay of Islands with our son and daughter-in-law. None of us have been up there before so it will be new to all of us. The youngsters have organised some pony trekking, but we have declined that opportunity….. I know the scenery will not disappoint. I am also hoping for a bit of warmth! (Grey and cold in Christchurch today…)
All too soon, it will be time to go home, by which time, I hope I will have lost this cough!
I’ll be able to post lots of lovely photographs as part of my next post, but here are a couple from an earlier trip, taken from the train to Greymouth. The next ones will be from the road trip going through Arthur’s Pass. I wonder who Arthur was, because his name appears in lots of places in the South Island
The river bed approaching Greymouth
Part of the Southern Alp Range