Health screening, Get Informed, Get Tested, Live Healthy in the TRNC

By Tina King ….

A slight move this week from what’s on where, as I’ve had a few friends who have unfortunately required health care (including me) recently from cardiovascular to breast lumps and one friend with diagnosis of cancer, and it’s most definitely been a journey of understanding and a huge learning curve.

Some of the supposedly helpful websites are not only out of date but also some phone numbers are unhelpful, if not answered at all! Or as stated are only supported by volunteers and at 2:30 pm on a Saturday afternoon no answer to be had or in fact on the Monday.

Thankfully, due to my recent past here in the TRNC I was able to contact several friends and ultimately gain direct contact with appropriate hospitals and consultants, and treatments, not only for myself but for friends as well.

However, unlike the UK treatment plans or patient pathways are not as straightforward, supportive or as informative. It’s all very disjointed as some investigations/treatments I had were in Girne some investigations/treatments in Lefkosa.  Then there is the problem with some results being presented in Turkish, oh and I felt a complete plonker when I realised Google Translate (hold iPhone over text and press camera icon in translate) can update you in English! A full translation…. Hey ho.

It’s so easy to cocoon yourself from the reality of “what if” living here in the TRNC, but when that reality bites you it’s a whole new ball game. Where do you go, which consultant specialist is in what hospital? That combined with the fact that health insurance is also a major issue if over a certain age.  Who can we trust?

The reason I wanted to write to you all this week is that I would like to know not only your experiences, but learn about some of the problems (if any) that you too may have personally experienced recently.  I say’ recently’,  as there have been many changes to hospitals within the past 2-3 years for example, some consultants may have moved to another hospital, some hospitals have changed policies, upgraded technology etc. I also would really welcome some positive feedback as well.

We all check our insurance policies when they are due for renewal, aiming to secure the best policy within our budget.  Why do we not apply this to our health? One consultant may be really nice to deal with as his English is perfect and he has what I call a good ‘bedside manner’, but is he really qualified, or the best that you can expect in terms of your diagnosis and treatment?

I started out looking at the major hospitals that had been recommended to me, and was really surprised with my findings in terms of glossy corporate hospitals versus the smaller, maybe older and more established.

I checked out recent ratings and comments from people on line regarding several hospitals and was quite taken aback how some have deteriorated, but again I also read reviews where some appear to have improved. So where do you start.  Don’t wait until you have a problem and suddenly take someone’s word that a certain doctor or hospital is great.  Do some research; make sure your contact details are all up to date, go visit a hospital.

We also have to look after ourselves in respect of our health? Having been cocooned by the NHS where we were all used to getting a letter calling us forward for mammograms, colposcopy /smears, bowel cancer screening and much more, how many people here in the TRNC have continued with health checks? Mammograms, bowel screening or prostate etc?.  The importance of attending the correct check up procedure increases as does the risk of becoming ill increases with our age.

Did you know that 1 in 3 men have difficulty in passing urine over the age of 50 years?  Over 25,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK every year.

Were you aware that Coronary heart disease accounts for 1/3 deaths between the ages of 40 and 70 years? 

Many of those deaths could have been prevented by taking positive action much earlier to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

I don’t know if you have found it as completely overwhelming as I did looking at the huge and varied program of screening for both men, women and children at various age parameters across all the hospitals, and the complete variation of cost from 250tl up to a staggering 1440tl for men and woman over 40!

Everything I read has been written by a consultant, I want it explained to me, at my level of understanding for example:  Blood tests can be used in a number of ways, such as helping to diagnose a condition, assessing the health of certain organs or screening for some genetic condition, that said do you know why you have CEA, CRP, CBC blood tests; do you know how to examine your breasts, how often should you have a mammogram over the age of 50? Are you boys checking your testicles, do you know what you’re looking for? 

My aim is to chat to a couple of hospitals in an effort to put a program of screening together across 3 levels for both men and women. For clinics to become proactive in advising best and appropriate tests based on your medical and family history.

I am hopeful to start up a regular monthly spotlight on health awareness programs, and perhaps look at getting a better understanding of cost versus benefit, ie; do you really need a comprehensive profile?

It would be good to get some feedback from you, contact me on