The NHS is adequate if you're articulate, intelligent and pushy. If you don't really know what's going on and let them get on with it it is very shit indeed.
that frankly, is as a big a load of balls as the average American's view of the NHS. Last week, I was ambulanced into hospital at 4AM with a suspected heart attack. The paramedics gave me an ECG in the hotel lobby which indicated no to the heart attack, but as a portable unit, wasn't accurate enough to say for sure. Still, very reassuring. The service was excellent, from simple reassurance to treatment. I was introduced to the nurse responsible for my care and she regularly looked and asked if I was ok, did I need anything, etc. cups of tea and glasses of water were provided. It wasn't a heart attack, I'm not here because of the sterling efforts of the health service staff, but if it had been, or if it happens for real, there is nothing I wold change about the way I was treated.
As has been pointed out elsewhere, it has it's faults, and when it fails, which it can, being articulate and educated helps, but most of the time, you'll get the service you need without being arsey about it.