In England, where health care is free, many women who want to get tested for thyroid disease are being refused or are told to see an endocrinologist (which they would have to pay for). Those lucky enough to get their thyroid levels check are being refused their lab results. I was reading an article, from Mary Shomon (a thyroid patient advocate who has thyroid disease herself), at thyroid.about.com (which can be found here) how the UK National Health Service are not competent enough to deal with thyroid patients and seem to dismiss them. What surprised me the most was another article by a UK advocate, Joanne (which Mary refers to in her own article). The article can be found here.
Here are three things she was surprised to learn (this was taken from her article Fat, Mad, Middle-Aged, Menopausal Women:
- not being taken seriously and being talked down to by GPs
- having test results withheld by receptionists - being told they are allowed to know that they are normal, but not the detail
- being charged £50 for special consultations if they want to know their full results
Dan Brett is a GP partner in Bristol. He qualified from St Mary’s Hospital in 1992. He has an interest in sports medicine and is currently the team doctor for the Bristol rugby club. He is also the practice based commissioning lead for his practice.
Here's what he said in regards to women and thyroid disease:
"Joanne - tell the "goitre girls" to find a new hobby! Here are some facts to save an unecessary[sic] fax [sic] Under-active thyroid disease (which nearly all our thyroid patients are) doesn't need support - It's very simple - keep taking the tablets - if you do, you will have a normal blood test once a year - no GP consulatation [sic] required - end of story! If you don't believe me got to: www.btf-thyroid.org [sic] Don't make an issue of something that's not - we've got PCTs to do that job... PS I like the £50 fining system for ridiculous consultation requests, though I'm not sure its[sic] currently strictly kosher under our terms of service."
Is this guy flipping out of his mind?? I would truly like every doctor who has told a thyroid patient that their TSH is normal to define normal. Is normal the TSH range you've been taught is acceptable, or could you maybe think outside the box for just one moment and realize what is normal for some is not normal for others?
What gets me is how can this man, who is supposed to provide care in a reasonable manner, dismiss women with thyroid disease so completely? I was reading around the OnMedica.com blogs and came across his. This man is highly chauvinistic and insensitive.
I have seen many doctors for my thyroid problems and have encountered some problems of my own. We are not taken seriously, we are often misdiagnosed with depression, or just thought to be a hypochondriac. What I will say, is that through all this, not once has a doctor dismissed me or degraded me in such a manner. If someone treated me in the way that he obviously would a patient, you could bet that I would find another doctor in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, it's not that easy, from what I hear, to do that in the UK. I guess we should be grateful for the freedom of choice.
Update: Just to let you all know, this is simply my opinion. I'm not totally down on either health care systems other than the way thyroid patients are treated (I say this because there are things that I don't like, some that I do). One thing they seem to have in common is the lack of thyroid knowledge. As with our health care system and England's, too, there are doctors who are actual thyroid patient advocates and are willing to buck the system. Too bad there aren't more of them out there.
*The doctor mentioned above was merely a commentator on the original article from the OnMedica.com site.