You’d think something as basic as medical dispensation practices would be standardised in Europe these days, but I’ve been treated in a disturbingly erratic way in pharmacies across borders.
In Spain, the most over-prescribed country in Europe, they push amphetamines on you if you complain of so much as a headache. In stark contrast, the Austrians seem devoted to ‘alternative’ remedies. I had been forewarned of this by a colleague, who related an anecdote to me in which an ambulance crew called out to pick up a child suffering from an acute fever was appalled to discover on arrival that the patient’s feet had not been wrapped up in vinegar-soaked towels by her (scandalously neglectful) parents.
Still, imagine the look on my face when the pharmacist offered me tea as a cure for cystitis. Tea! After my pleas for antibiotics went unheeded, we eventually haggled our way to some worryingly herby-tasting pills.
In conclusion: save our NHS!