Tuesday, 16 April 2013

#atozchallenge - Nuffield (& NHS)

My only experience with private treatment was way back when I needed braces and although my treatment was paid for by the NHS I visited a private orthodontist. I have to admit that it wasn’t really a positive experience, mainly because each time I had an appointment, the NHS paid the private orthodontist for it. I ended up being talked into having a treatment which would take over two years, rather than the nasty alternative which involved having four teeth out in an operation and then only having braces for about nine months because, y’know, operations have blood and hurt and are painful and you will be sore! This resulted in all my teeth being pushed to the back of my mouth and leaving me with no room for any of my wisdom teeth (not to mention gaps that the NHS orthodontist in Scotland was horrified hadn’t been closed up after all that time).

When we found out that we were going to need IVF, going private never even occurred to me as an option. I’ve always had this idea that staff on the NHS were doing it out of the goodness of their hearts and people in private hospitals were all about the money, but that opinion is changing. I think that both medical systems have their place now.

The hospital that we will get our treatment on with the NHS is in the centre of Glasgow. I’ve been there before, a family member had a triple-heart bypass there. It’s a good hospital. Unfortunately, for me at least, looks count for quite a lot. Mr Click had his appointment there and it went quite well; little waiting room with free books (always a good sign), quiet, nice photos of babies all over the walls.

We had to return a couple of weeks later for my appointment, and that was when my view of the place dropped. This appointment was on the other side of the hospital, the taxi driver didn’t know where the entrance to that building was so dropped us off at the front. We went to the toilets and they didn’t have locks on the doors, the hinges were broken and they were just dirty. We followed the signs to the department the appointment was in, until they stopped abruptly and when we asked staff members where we needed to go they couldn’t help us. Signs on the walls were misspelt (it’s petty, but it’s something that bothers me). Eventually we found our way, in a tatty little lift, to what felt like a basement.

We were there for ten minutes. They went over all the same things that we’d gone over six weeks before. I was weighed and measured, as I had been just a few weeks previously. The woman had all of the notes there in front of us and basically checked each thing that was written there, then told us there was a 24 month waiting list because of our area (but, and this is a huge plus point, we would qualify for three rounds of IVF) and that was it. I’d taken a day off work, and we’d had an hour and a half journey (in each direction) for ten minutes.

As you can imagine, I was a bit disappointed. And in the days that followed I felt totally devastated, not only do I need to have a pretty invasive series of procedures in order to have a baby, I’d have to have them in a place that I hated.

And then I started looking at the Nuffield.

My father-in-law had his knee replacement there (in much the same sort of deal as with my orthodontic treatment). Mr Click had been there and said it was wonderful, so when we got the chance to visit their fertility clinic as part of an open day, we jumped at the chance.

Honestly, I was sold on it from the moment we went in and I found that the toilet doors had locks on them! The place was so clean, everyone was friendly and helpful. There’s even a drinks machine in the waiting room dispensing free tea, coffee and hot chocolate! I’m obviously shallow and easily pleased.

We had a tour of the place, got a little talk from the embryologist there, and even watched a fascinating video showing the actual process of what happens once they’ve collected the eggs. It was a really enlightening day. We spoke to a nurse who explained how a few things would work and totally relieved my fears about the fact that we live on an island (therefore treatment between around September and March is out of the question because of the disruption to the boats).

So now going private is something we’re actually hoping to do. We’re hoping to get in one round privately before our turn comes on the NHS. If we get lucky then some other couple can have our slot at the other hospital; if not, we’ll still have three free goes next year.

We’ve got a referral from our GP. It’s just a question of raising the funds for it now. We’d hoped to get the van sold to pay for it, but it didn’t quite hit what we were looking for, we’re confident it’ll sell in the future though, so we’re investigating a loan in the meantime (and I’m selling a bunch of old books on eBay).

It’s funny what a difference appearances can make, but I feel a hell of a lot more positive about having treatment at the Nuffield, than at the hospital in Glasgow, even if the odds aren’t much better. With something like this I think it’s really important to go into it with the right frame of mind, and I’m sure if we didn’t take this chance I’d always be wondering ‘what if?’


  1. I agree, looks and the surroundings of a place do make a difference. If the place is dirty and falling apart I would have hated it too. I remember years ago when my mom broke her hip and she was in the hospital here. She started out in a nice room but as she got better they kept moving her to different rooms for different reasons until she was in the old part of the hospital and in a dimly lit room with dimly lit hallways and no doors on the rooms. It was creepy to say the least.

    Dark Thoughts Blog

    1. I can understand that there are some things that can't be helped, but sometimes you just get a feeling about a place. Appearances definitely count for a lot! You mom's experience certainly sounds a bit disconcerting.

  2. Appearances make a huge difference. And free hot chocolate, come on, don't get no better than that.

    1. Agreed! I'm quite looking forward to my free drink and biscuits at our next appointment. ;-)


Let me know what you think. :-)