Why do patients treat the hospital like a spa?

Me again! I shared a story from my experiences as a nurse in a hospital before and it was quite well-received (it was even published! - Thanks editors!), so I thought I would try another one.

So I am in the UK, where we have universal healthcare under the NHS (National Health Service) and honestly it’s pretty brilliant and it should never go away. Sadly, because it’s free healthcare, it does have a tendency to create some entitlement with some patients - a very small minority, mind you, but they do stand out.

My department does dialysis and this can be a long and boring procedure for everyone, but it IS A LIFE-SAVING one and it’s not something you can schedule at your convenience like a spa or salon appointment.

Sadly I get so many patients that do this! They seem to think they can just not turn up, and after we call them (not THEM calling US!) they say something like “Oh, yeah, I couldn’t make it today. I’ll swing by tomorrow, thanks!”

No apologies, and no reasonable excuse, and with the complete expectation that we would be able to accommodate them whenever they felt like coming in - because they know that we HAVE to accommodate them or they pretty much die.

I’m not saying I would ever turn a patient away, I wouldn’t dream of it and it’s not what the NHS is about, but I do wish we could start fining patients or something when they decide not to show up to a procedure that we have put aside time and resources for. The moment it starts hurting their wallet, even just a little bit, and you know most them of them will suddenly be “available”.

That’s my rant, thanks for letting me get it out of my system.


Doctors have the same issue here in the states. Many DO have a fine of sorts for a no-show, usually around 20 or 25 dollars… but it still happens, frequently.

Sometimes though the issue really isn’t the patient’s fault–my cousin had a ride cancel at the last minute twice during her pregnancy (and the ride was her own mother), and I’ve had at least one instance of Medicaid Transportation outright not showing up–but it’s probably not typical, and those folks generally do call as soon as they can. As for the rest, it’s not unlikely that the same “I’m the center of the universe” mindset that comes up so much on this site plays a role in many cases.

Used to work as a nurse in Germany until 2017, people see nurses as “ass wipers” or waiters, using the emergency button for every little thing.

I remember a young, fit girl who came in for a routine check up, she was physically okay. She used the emergency button because her napkin fell down etc.
Her friends came by and tried to give me a huge order of the coffee that they wanted.

Of course you can’t just ignore the emergency calls, you always have to go check. It took sooo much time away from the real work

My sister and I have had Medicare transport not show up quite a few times, even when we’ve received text messages saying the driver is on the way!

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