Welcome to the NHS and banking in Britain

A strange thing happened to me this morning: very suddenly a grey cloud descended halfway into my vision on one eye. I could still see below this grey cloud but from about halfway across my vision and up, I couldn’t see anything. After about a minute, it vanished as quickly as it appeared. There was a very slight and completely painless burning sensation behind this eye for a little while afterwards. I consulted Dr Google and it appears I have either had a stroke, or I’ve got a brain tumour 😉

Ok, so I’m a bit of a hypochondriac and decided to consult a real doctor instead. But this has proved difficult. I phoned the nearest medical centre and they said I’d need to come in and register with them first and then I’d be able to make an appointment in about three days (make an appointment in three days rather than actually see someone in three days; evidently it takes about two weeks to see someone!). We decided we should all register so we wandered in with our passports and proof of address. However they want a letter from Ben’s employer as well just to say that he is employed here. Ben offered to email one to them then and there. The response was, “We don’t have email”. How can a medical centre possibly survive without email in 2014? I asked the lady what would happen if it was an emergency and explained my vision impairment. She said I should see an optometrist. There’s nothing wrong with my vision. I don’t need glasses and I have 20/20 vision. Ok, receptionist lady, if I have a stroke and die overnight it’s on your head. So we’re no closer to registering with a medical centre and therefore no closer to having the privilege of being able to make an appointment to see someone in two weeks.

I also don’t have a bank account here. So after this disappointing episode I went into NatWest – Ben’s bank – to add my name to his account. Ben had signed all the forms for me to do this and all I had to do was go in and present some identification. Or so we thought. They also want a bill with my address on it and although I have a letter from BT with my account details and home address, it’s not officially a bill and is insufficient. I’m not trying to create a new bank account for goodness’ sake, it’s Ben’s account which is already open and all we want to do is add my name to it!

We are about to transfer a large sum of money to the UK from New Zealand from the sale of our house there and it’ll be over my dead body if it ends up at NatWest. NatWest can take their bank account and insert it into Tony Abbott’s bottom then secure it with a butt plug. So there. Although with my impending stroke I may very well be just a dead body before too long.

After this second disappointing episode I wandered into the Bank of Scotland where they not only opened up a bank account for me right away with just my passport and letter from BT, they also gave me a 100 pound overdraft. Thank you, Bank of Scotland. You forever have my loyalty.

**NB- My vision impairment was probably just a migraine. I’m not being serious about the stroke and brain tumour.**

24 responses to “Welcome to the NHS and banking in Britain”

  1. Ah! Welcome to the wonderful world of interpretation of the UK’s Money Laundering Regulations. These regulations require financial services organisations to verify your ID and address and there are guidelines on how to do this. Each organisation will have its own interpretation of these guidelines and do not expect to find any flexibility or common sense either.

    I suggest you ensure that both of you have your utility bills in your names and that you have at least one sent in paper form at three monthly intervals. As you can guess, paperless billing conflicts with their bureaucratic rules!

    Finally, get a baseball bat and a life-sized effigy of a bureaucrat, put it up in the garden and go and beat it up after each encounter!!!

    • Yes, paperless billing was the other problem. I have signed up for paperless billing so there will not be any paper bills in the near future. We have also been told that the council is very slow to send the first council tax bill and that we shouldn’t expect it until early next year. This is just too long to wait for a bank account. I have a job and my employer needs somewhere to pay my salary.

      The baseball bat is a great idea. Thanks!

  2. It sounds as if you had a temporary build up of fluid pressure within your eye, which put pressure on one of the fine blood vessels. Eye fluid has drain holes that can be temporarily blocked/squeezed. Lots of possible causes. I had something similar but more severe many years ago. It never happened again. But please don’t take this as gospel and if it does happen again, don’t mess about, go directly to an A&E they are usually more accommodating although you may have to wait. Tell them that it is repeat occurrence of temporary blindness. A lot of such events are easily treated but become dangerous to eyesight if untreated.

    You might have been overdoing it a bit and lots of stress and staring at computer screen from a fixed position perhaps with a kink in your neck. I’m sure you’re sensible enough to be alright, but I remember it’s pretty scary at the time. Please accept a bear for luck 🐻

    P.S. Whilst emergencies are dial 999, for medical advice 24/7 dial 111. Have another 🐻 I’ve got loads of the damn things. 🐻 This ones doing something unspeakable to my leg. Get off you little Abbott. 😛

    • Thanks, Graham. Yes, it’s always good to know the emergency number so thanks for that too. We never went to the doctor when we were in York last year. Not one of us. We’re all pretty healthy and don’t go to the GP very often. I’d want to know that if my children were ill, that I could get them seen fairly promptly. I don’t care about myself, but I know I’d want them to have access to a GP.

      • I know, the NHS is deteriorating due to cuts. Best I can suggest is break the rules and use whatever facilities available and/or insist on an emergency appointment. There is usually provision for that although they don’t like to admit it.

        In most places there are Walk in Centers and Minor Injuries Units. Aberdeen is a bit short. There isn’t a WIC and the only MIU appears to be in Bairds Pharmacy and only available on Saturdays. However there is an A&E at Royal Aberdeen Childrens Hospital on Cornhill Rd. It all seems a bit sparse though.

        Best of Luck 🙂

  3. Opticians don’t just do vision, they are a health practitioners for your eye health, and a eye exam is not about selling you glasses.

    GP’s are generally clueless about eyes, optometrist has far better equipment and the right experience.
    Symptoms or descriptions of a cloud, or veil – are often associated with retinal tears and detachments.

    My wife is an optometrist, and has packed people off to eye casualty with a ‘veil across eye’ type symtons, and when she has seen it for herselve (a detachment) (they protest, but I haven’t got time, cant be bothered to wait in casualty) and find themselves surprised to have urgent laser surgery that day. Please don’t be alarmed, it cold be many other things, but please just go into any optician (may be free in Scotland) but you could pay privately for £30 or so, and please describe symptoms you had.

    Please see an optician, hopefully one with an Optomap which you might have to pay £35 for (a retinal scan) NOT to be confused with a retinal camera, or fundus camera far inferior. but any optician should be quickly be able to look at your retina with or without Optomap


    any optician, if you describe those symptoms will want to have a good look, Opticians look at eyes/retinas all day, GP’s sometime almost never. please don’t be alarmed, possibly many other other causes (but I’m not qualified to diagnose, give any advice) just get it checked asap, if only for my peace of mind.

    • Thanks, Barry. It can’t hurt to see an optometrist but what’s the difference between an optician and an optometrist? I don’t mind paying £30. I’m even happy to pay to see a GP as we pay in NZ to see the GP. There’s something a bit unsettling about knowing that if my kids were ill and needed to see a GP, they wouldn’t be able to. Not at the moment anyway. Thank goodness they’re both healthy.

      • The person performing an eye exam is actually an optometrist ( but also commonally called an optician) they will also give you a prescription if you need glasses. Which you can take anywhere to have glasses made.. the person fitting glasses choosing them selecting lenses might be a qualified dispensing optician (can’t perform eye exams, not an optometrist) or just an advisor without that qualification.

        the standard NHS eye exam is free in Scotland, not sure about your status there. Additional enhsnced exams. Optomap OCT. If needed recommened would be an additional cost.. Kids should go regularly for a check up as well. not just about if they need glasses. No excuses as it is free. ! 🙂 ( that mri scan was eye related, by the way. A precaution due to something picked up after a regular eye exam)

  4. Rachel! I’m fuming on your behalf! Us honest folk get tied up by bureaucracy and security screening etc whereas I’m sure the most determined crims find a loophole. Re your eye, why don’t you send Dave an email – he’d be more than happy to help. xx

    • Yes, the bureaucracy is so frustrating but I felt relieved to have solved the issue of a bank account. The only problem is that now we have separate bank accounts and we’ve never had this before. This is going to cause problems. Ben thinks I should have waited for a bill and stuck with NatWest but there’s no sign of any paper bills coming soon and I’m sick of not having access to cash or a credit card. Lots of places don’t accept my NZ credit card and when they do I always have to sign. I can’t use a pin number because it’s a foreign card. I can’t buy topups for my phone online because they only accept British cards and I can’t change to the British Apple store for the same reason. I depend on Ben giving me cash and it’s driving me completely nuts!

  5. I can totally relate to your issues with NHS, Had a friend who struggled with the system for over 2 weeks. The NHS system has its advantages but its not an efficient system. Its a bit punishing to the newcomers, I hear. Hope things get sorted for you soon.

    • Thanks, SimplySaru. I’m hoping we just got a particularly bad person to deal with. She clearly didn’t know what she was doing and instead of trying to be helpful and find out she took the easy option and said “Can’t be done” to everything we asked. She just wanted to get rid of us. We’re going to register with a different medical center; just have to find one.

  6. The response was, “We don’t have email”. <– This is a huge opportunity for my employer 🙂 We set out to digitize the health records in the top 5 developed economies to start with.

    Glad, you did not become victim of banking red tape, eventually.

    I felt a bit nervous to read "dead" words though. Sigh! you were joking 🙂

  7. Sounds like Little Britain’s “Computer says no.” I wonder if newcomers to Australia experience such bureaucratic barriers (assuming anyone’s allowed into Australia these days).
    I hope you get to see whomever you need to see about your eye asap. It’s worth being a hypochondriac about those things. Good luck!

    • I’m reckon the bureaucracy in Australia is just as bad. There’s so much paper work in Australia for everything and so many rules and regulations. That was one nice thing about New Zealand but even New Zealand is heading that way.

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