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The "Paracetamol Myth" - Polish people hesitate to visit UK doctors.


spiritus 67 | 663
3 Feb 2016  #1
I've heard from quite a few of my Polish buddies here in the UK that a visit to a UK doctor is a waste of time as British doctors only give you paracetamol. It's something I have heard from friends all round the UK.

Has anyone else had experience of this ?
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,664
3 Feb 2016  #2
there is some truth in it. If you go to the doctor with nothing much wrong with you, through hypochondria for example (Italians are the best for this, with another nameless European people coming close second) then the doc will give you a prescription for something or other, just to get you out of the room, so that they can concentrate on genuinely ill people (British docs are paid per prescription)

However he or she would not give you a prescription for paracetamol as they only cost about 35p to buy over the counter, and a prescription (in England anyway) would cost you a lot more than that.

Whoever told you that is .....let's say exaggerating for effect.

It could be one of those myths that people hear once and like the sound of, and they spread it around even though it is patently untrue. for example the English are ALWAYS going on about the time they went into a shop in wales and everyone in there suddenly stopped talking English and switched to Welsh. this is bullcrap, a bit like the paracetamol story. yet everyone tells it, over and over.
InPolska 11 | 1,821
3 Feb 2016  #3
"lol" ;). Some 25/30 years ago, when I was in London (in school), I had a lot of such experiences with people around me. At least back then (if not now) often patients were told by doctors to drink a lot of water and stay in bed. Even in those days, in my home, doctors were (still do) prescribing tons of medications (paid for by State ;)) so for me, the British way was most amazing. In Poland, I don't know about NFZ doctors because I only go to private facilities, let me tell you that we get huge prescriptions (as much as we do back home so "normal" to me) so British patients in Poland could be shocked ;)
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,664
3 Feb 2016  #4
I had a lot of such experiences with people around me

you see that is a perfect example of what I mean...
No, mon ami, you did not 'have a lot of such experiences' - you heard a lot of people repeating the myth.
jon357 63 | 14,120
3 Feb 2016  #5
I don't recall ever being prescribed paracetamol by a gp - I think they would only do that if the patient was a bit of a hypochondriac. Perhaps it's down to expectations; GPs in the UK tend not to prescribe unnecessary medicines and someone who expects a yard long prescription of unnecessary items is likely to be disappointed.
kpc21 1 | 763
4 Feb 2016  #6
Sometimes it happens that people go to the doctor and want him to prescribe any medicines, although in fact no medicine is needed in the specific case, like at a light virus infection. It's better to prescribe just a paracetamol (if the patient has a fever), then to give some antibiotics what some people still want, although when it's a virus and not a bacteria infection, they can do more harm then good.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,596
4 Feb 2016  #7
we get huge prescriptions (as much as we do back home so "normal" to me) so British patients in Poland could be shocked ;)

Same problem with NFZ doctors. My NFZ doctor is fantastic (you can usually get an appointment even if you call after 10am!) and so there's no reason to use a private GP, but the shopping list of medicine always makes me laugh. I remember wondering why on earth anyone would spend 30zł on some probiotics when you could just buy perfectly good Kaufland probiotic drinks for about 80gr each that did the same job and tasted far better.

I remember once having a diabolical migraine and only really needing an injected painkiller to get some rest. I came away with 4 different things prescribed as well as getting the injection. 12 hours later after a good sleep, the migraine was gone ;)
Chemikiem 6 | 1,799
4 Feb 2016  #8
Sometimes it happens that people go to the doctor and want him to prescribe any medicines, although in fact no medicine is needed

There is a lot of truth in this I think.
I've lost count of the times when friends of mine have come back from the doctors minus any medicine, and looking rather put out by this.

I get the impression that medicines may well be over subscribed in Poland compared with the UK.
terri 1 | 1,617
4 Feb 2016  #9
Polish TV is to blame for most of this. No matter what ailment you have they advertise a cure for it. In fact they advertise cures for ailments you didn't know you had...and these cues are only dietary supplements. In one hour of TV you will get 15 ads for supplements.

People spend a fortune on things that have not been tested and in most instances do not work.
Also people believe that a tablet is a cure for all, when in most instances they suffer from stress, need a good night's rest and to relax. You can tell that they are stressed when you come into contact with anyone in a shop, on the tram/bus or in fact anywhere. And NOBODY smiles.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,596
4 Feb 2016  #10
I get the impression that medicines may well be over subscribed in Poland compared with the UK.

If you want a good laugh, read the online forums for Polish mothers in the UK. Many of the wealthier ones will pay large amounts of money to go to private Polish gynaecologists (or even fly back home...) simply because they can't understand why the midwife isn't immediately referring them to the gynaecologist and making sure that they return home with vast amounts of medicine after every visit.
mafketis 20 | 7,041
4 Feb 2016  #11
Isn't this largely a matter of overall optimism vs pessism in the culture influencing medical practices?

In the UK, a more optimistic society traditionally, the assumption is that the patient will get better on their own and it's better to just let nature take its course.

In Poland, decidedly more pessimistic, the assumption is that there is danger lurking everywhere in the human body and any abnormalities need to be rooted out ruthlessly.

the first time I went to my 'family doctor' (an outpatient clinic at a research hospital) I had a sinus infection (I'd worked that out already) and the first thing I said was "I'm pretty sure that I have a sinus infection" before I knew it I had referrals for two other types of treatment (in addition to the business of diagnosing my sinus infection) and several prescriptions.

You won't often find stories of the "17 different doctors fail to detect stage 4 lung cancer" type that seem to litter the British press.

I'll add that British co-worker some years ago had some work done while at home and their Polish doctor was _scandlized_ at the lack of follow up care (which amounted to 'go home and don't bother us anymore' in more polite langauge).
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,664
4 Feb 2016  #12
" You won't often find stories of the "17 different doctors fail to detect stage 4 lung cancer" type that seem to litter the British press. "

So could you could link us to such a story, Mafketis?

Ah no, you wont be able to, because it doesn't 'seem' to exist. :)

.
Roger5 1 | 1,458
4 Feb 2016  #13
The art of medicine is amusing the patient while nature finds a cure.
Voltaire
mafketis 20 | 7,041
4 Feb 2016  #14
So could you could link us to such a story, Mafketis?

Alas and alack, must take that back!

After about two whole seconds of googling....

dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2644019/Mother-four-33-died-doctors-missed-cancer-THIRTY-TIMES-blaming-nerve-pain-anxiety.html

dailymail.co.uk/health/article-44308/Cancer-missed-doctors.html

eveningtimes.co.uk/ne ws/13301027.Patient_died_after_doctors_missed_cancer_diagnosis/

mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/why-are-cancer-signs-being-missed-three-1380806
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,664
4 Feb 2016  #15
lol well if you will insist on reading the Daily Fail...:)))
mafketis 20 | 7,041
4 Feb 2016  #16
do you have any evidence that the stories are untrue?

Perhaps the telegraph reporting same stories will reassure you, or probably not. If you simply don't want to believe then no evidence will suffice (rather like Smolensk to bring this back to Poland a bit).

telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1329487/Man-whose-cancer-doctors-missed-dies.html

telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/10866416/A-mother-of-four-died-after-doctors-misdiagnosed-her-cervical-cancer-30-times.html
Jardinero 1 | 394
4 Feb 2016  #17
No doubt the pharmaceutical companies are getting fat in Poland as Poles have got to be in the top 3 pill users in EU (think only French and Italians are worse)... there seems to be a pill/ointment/etc. for virtually even the slightest hint of discomfort...

One major drawback over Poland is that the NHS is in such a bad shape that it does not spend nearly enough on prevention... and we all know that 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure'.

To make things worse, there is no affordable private practice alternative like there is in Poland where you could get your blood work or whatever lab tests done on a regular basis to monitor the key parameters without spending a fortune.
Chemikiem 6 | 1,799
4 Feb 2016  #18
read the online forums for Polish mothers in the UK.

You need to get out more Delph ;)

Many of the wealthier ones will pay large amounts of money to go to private Polish gynaecologists (or even fly back home...) simply because they can't understand why the midwife isn't immediately referring them to the gynaecologist and making sure that they return home with vast amounts of medicine after every visit.

It's just different systems I guess, they want what they're used to getting in their home country.
My opinion from talking to Poles is that they just don't fully trust English doctors, and will question everything.

I also have to say that I've never heard of doctors just prescribing paracetamol. As Roz said earlier, it's cheap enough to buy over the counter so what would be the point in issuing a prescription? Unless it's Calpol for a child which does contain paracetamol and is more expensive to buy, and of course prescriptions are free for children.

You won't often find stories of the "17 different doctors fail to detect stage 4 lung cancer" type that seem to litter the British press.

Not saying that it's acceptable at all, but there are always going to be cases that slip through the net.
You think this has never happened in Poland or any other country other than the UK?
mafketis 20 | 7,041
5 Feb 2016  #19
You think this has never happened in Poland or any other country other than the UK?

It can and does happen anywhere, my point is that it's more likely to happen in a cultural setting where people think most patient complaints are probably trivial things that will work out themselves than in a place where anything out of the ordinary comes under immediate (often intense) scrutiny.

Side question for someone who knows Britain, do nurses wear their uniforms outside of the hospital? A friend (working in healthcare) was watching a British tv show in which a nurse arrived home in her uniform and was aghast at the lack of basic hygene (in Poland all medical personal change in and out of uniform at work).
jon357 63 | 14,120
5 Feb 2016  #20
do nurses wear their uniforms outside of the hospital

Not usually and if they went home in it they wouldn't be wearing it on the next shift.

An interesting point about different cultures @Mafektis. A few times I've looked online for symptoms that have been bothering me and have found a massive difference between American and British sites. Basically the American ones say "you have a serious medical emergency and need immediate treatment; there is also a possibility that a doctor has misdiagnosed you and you may have a case to sue" whereas the British ones say "pull yourself together, take a paracetamol and remember that your local hospital is busy and your GP has patients who are really ill"...
Roger5 1 | 1,458
5 Feb 2016  #21
a nurse arrived home in her uniform

If she was on her way home, where's the hygeine issue? She would have put the uniform in the wash and worn a clean one next day. OK, you could say the uniform could have become contaminated on her way to work, but you won't see a nurse in uniform in cramped public transport. She would have driven to work, so what's the problem? Also, some nurses live in Nurses' Homes, dedicated accommodation very near their hospitals. I lived in one myself for two years but that's another story ;-)
mafketis 20 | 7,041
5 Feb 2016  #22
if they went home in it they wouldn't be wearing it on the next shift.

I said as much but my friend was not calmed by this news (in his view the nurse was in danger of infecting anyone and anything they come into contact with and the idea of throwing the uniform in the family wash was kind of sickening to him).
Roger5 1 | 1,458
5 Feb 2016  #23
the idea of throwing the uniform in the family wash was kind of sickening to him

Sounds a bit like that black guy in K-Pax.
jon357 63 | 14,120
5 Feb 2016  #24
(in his view the nurse was in danger of infecting anyone and anything they come into contact w

I doubt she'd been doing personal care in an infectious diseases ward since she wore a uniform home. More likely weighing babies or giving diet advice.
Bulikov
28 Oct 2017  #25
Just an obvious point about the second post here - UK doctors aren't paid per prescription. Hospital doctors are paid salaries, and GP partners are basically paid relative to the number of patients on their registered list.

Another obvious point about the difference between the UK and Polish health systems and thus the expectations of patients in each country: while the UK national health service (NHS) is not well funded compared to systems in other wealthy European countries (France, Germany, etc), it is much better funded than the Polish national health fund, which I think has the lowest funding by % of GDP in Europe. This means that 90% of healthcare in the UK is public, and so most people use the NHS most of the time for health problems. By comparison, a much greater proportion of healthcare in Poland is private, and quite cheap by British standards - £5 for a GP appointment, £10 for a blood test, and so on. This in turn means that compared to Brits, Polish patients tend to have expectations more appropriate to private healthcare - better access, getting what they ask for rather than what is clinically ideal - than the NHS, even though they aren't paying for it.
peterweg 36 | 2,316
28 Oct 2017  #26
(in his view the nurse was in danger of infecting anyone and anything they come into contact with and the idea of throwing the uniform in the family wash was kind of sickening to him).

Nurses change in and out of uniform at work, in the UK.
kaprys 2 | 1,733
28 Oct 2017  #27
@Bulikov
Not really. I don't pay for private visits here unless it's really necessary. I definitely wouldn't pay for a private visit at my GP's. And yet I do get my prescriptions and exams when necessary.

The biggest problem with doctors here are visits to specialists.


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