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Introducing hospitals in Budapest

Date: 06 June 2015
Location: Homeplus Hostel, Budapest
Status: Now an expert in Hungarian Healthcare
Trip: Europe Summer 2015

When you step out of the shower at 9AM, completely blind without contact lenses and someone shouts "Ben will you take Rosie to the hospital?", you know it's going to be an interesting day.

It seems the previous nights tour of the ruin bars - which are incredible - had ended with one of our parties feet getting a little too close to the wheel of a motorbike. At the time a Kiwi and I had done the only logical thing - run to the shops and purchase three bars of Milka and a liter of brandy. To be taken immediately.

Somehow our oh so British chocolate and alcohol approach to medicine didn't quite cut it so the following morning it was time to brave the Hungarian healthcare system.

A short taxi ride later and we arrived at an imposing, if somewhat closed hospital. Another not so short taxi ride and we arrived at something which looked a lot less like a hospital but was at least open.

I don't think anything has ever made me appreciate the NHS more. It's the little luxuries you miss - like drinking water, cups and soap. Asking for drinking water will get you a flat out no, passing out showed itself to be more effective.

It was an interestingly self service approach to medicine. Payment was in cash on a "by procedure" basis. Going for an x-ray? Pay the guy holding the camera and wait while they find your change.

After the x-ray and subsequent consultation we were told, "fracture, go get a cast" and the door slammed. This was how we came to be pushing a gurney trolley around a hospital in Budapest asking strangers "any idea where we could get a cast?". On the upside, it did feel a little bit like being in a very low budget version of House.

And yes, we did take selfies on a gurney:

Gurney Selfies

While we waited for the cast to be applied, we were joined by a somewhat chatty Hungarian convict in handcuffs and accompanied by armed guards. That was surprising.

For crutches we were directed to a shop on the Buda side which we were assured was open until 18:00 on Sundays. A ninety minute walk later and we confirmed that it did not, in fact, open on Sundays.

The people who helped us at the hospital were truly wonderful. On multiple occasions complete strangers saw we were struggling and came to offer to translate or point us in the right direction. This attitude seems to extend throughout Budapest in a way I haven't seen in many other cities.

It's partly this which makes me understand why so many people say Budapest is their favorite city. That and the fact it's beautiful;

Budapest Parliament