17 Sep


I don’t know if I should say this, probably not, but things seem to be progressing with my visa. Yesterday saw me attending the centre for the medical screening side of things and the security part for my ID card.

As a nurse, whose most recent job has been in an out patient setting, I found the whole medical side fascinating so please forgive me for waffling on at length. Neil had warned me that there were two “tracks”, standard and a faster sort of VIP track for which you pay more. It is definitely worth the extra. Mind you, I was never actually asked which service I wanted. It was just assumed I knew enough now to pick the faster route. From experience he also knew it was a good idea to arrive early, too.

So the process goes like this: I turn up at the front desk clutching my prized pink form and passport now returned to me with a new sticker on the front that is going to be a pain to remove when the day comes (Incidentally, all stickers of any description out here are seemingly impossible to remove). I’m instructed to go to a nearby desk to get them both photocopied and go upstairs. After handing over payment for the photocopying (pence) I head up the stairs to another desk, the copies are taken from me, and I pay up (about 40 quid), cash only, and get a card in return. I’m pointed in the direction of the Women Only waiting room. From here on in no men are allowed which seems to include medical staff.

Another desk and my paperwork is taken and half a dozen labels, prepared there and then, are attached ready for use. Now, to the unknowing eye, there doesn’t seem to be anything exceptional about any of this so far. But you have no idea of the palaver involved in the out patients department back home if the notes had run out of sticky labels. These were relatively huge with personal details including address printed on them. The ones that were now attached to my forms were tiny in comparison and had a bar code.

Through out the next stages I was told precisely where to go and sit, the process moving along like a smooth conveyer belt but I had absolutely no idea who was who or what I was waiting for at any time. The first cubical contained a woman (a doctor maybe?) who asked if I had any medical problems, tapped something into a computer and told me to go to another cubical. Here another woman (Nurse? Phlebotomist?) took blood and told me to go to another desk.

My paperwork was taken again and I was told to go into a room and remove my bra. I guessed I was about to have a chest x-ray but most of the women waiting to go into the changing cubical had no idea what was going on. Fortunately there was a group of new nurses being processed themselves also waiting who helped explain about putting on gowns etc to those not in the know. This was the only bottleneck in the whole system, two cubicles being nowhere near enough and the room to wait for them being far too small. As I was wearing a simple T-shirt I opted for doing that thing where you remove your bra via the sleeve, much to the amazement of some of the more well-covered women, and joined the queue for the x-ray room.

It wasn’t long before I was heading out with the simple instruction “all done” and rejoined Neil for the ID part of the process. Fortunately, the building for this is next door to the medical centre. You might even think someone had thought to plan it that way. Again I had no idea what was going on but it all happened very quickly. Digital fingerprinting, digital signature and another rabbit-in-the-headlights photograph all at the same well set up row of similar stations. Efficient in the extreme.


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