Sunday, 1 August 2010

Sick of Waiting

Okay, I know I have complained about the NHS on my blog before. I am also aware I have moaned about waiting too. But I’m afraid that once more the public health service in London has got me thinkingwell, what else am I going to do whilst sitting in a waiting room at the Whittington - AGAIN?
Let me summarise the situation. I am under investigation at the aforementioned hospital for a mystery stomach problem which saw me hospitalised earlier in the year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not begging for sympathy about my health... but I’m sure those of you who live in the capital will appreciate the struggles I face to get this problem sorted out.
Firstly, there is the amount of time you have to wait to get an appointment. Over a month ago my nurse requested an ultrasound scan. She gave me a form and instructed me to call the Imaging department at Dick’s to arrange an appointment. So I called them. No answer. I called them again. Still no answer. About nine attempts later someone picked up the phone.
You need to fax or bring the form in.” I was instructed before the line went dead.
Later the same day, not trusting the surly reception to respond to a fax with any urgency, I take the form there in person. I hand it over, a hopeful smile on my face.
When will I get an appointment?”
A stern look.We will call you.
A raised eyebrow. “In a couple of weeks.
“And when will I get an appointment.
A sigh. “In the next six weeks.
Needless to say six weeks have passed and I’ve heard diddly-squat from the said department. Mmm.
In the meantime I receive an automated voice message telling me I have an appointment at the hospital for a general check up. I eagerly rock up with Him Indoors in tow, bright and early. I give them my name and sit in the waiting room. And wait. And wait.
Forty-five minutes later a nurse emerges from the staffroom and clears her throat authoritatively. “Dr Wilson’s clinic is running an hour late. Anyone for Dr Wilson, our apologies, but the clinic is running late.”
Him Indoors and I exchange glances. Apparently it takes forty-five minutes for a hospital to figure out it is a little behind schedule, you see. Rolling my eyes I turn back to my Blackberry and email my (thankfully understanding) boss.
Half an hour later I approach the receptionist and apologetically ask her how much longer I will be waiting. She shakes her head. “I don’t know. The nurse has taken your notes in so I’m not sure where you are on the list.”
I concede defeat and return to my seat. Half an hour passes. I try again. She looks at her watch.Let me find out for you.
I return to my seat and watch as she retreats into the staffroom. A couple of minutes later she emerges and waves me over. “I’m sorry, the doctor has all the notes in the clinic and is with another patient. I can’t disturb him.
I nod and thank her for her efforts. Him Indoor looks at the clock. “I’m going to have to leave for work soon.He points out.Next time we should turn up two hours late and see how they like it.
The problem is it doesn’t work like that. When you arrive at the clinic, they note your arrival and pass your notes on to the nurse. If you show up late you might as well not even bother. Double standards? Never!
So, after two hours of waiting I finally got to see my doc. What does he do? Read my notes and decide to refer me to another department. Did I need to wait for two hours for that? I don’t think so. Surely he could have made the consultation over the phone, or is that a little bit too forward thinking for the NHS? Apparently it is.
A week later I find myself in the Gynaecology waiting room at the Whittington. I have just settled down to organising myTo Do” list when a nurse appears.Anyone waiting for Dr Patel? The clinic is delayed due to an emergency. We don’t know how long you will be waiting, but if you want to leave and make another appointment...”
Oh, no you don’t. You don’t get rid of me that easily. I pull out my Blackberry and email my boss. Again. But, to my amazement my name is called fifteen minutes later.
After a short consultation and examination the Doc decides that my lady bits are in full working order. However she suggests a scan just to be sure and hands me a form.
My nurse referred me to the Imaging department last month.” I warn her. She looks at me knowingly.Well, probably best we put in another form, just to be safe.” I agree and head to the third floor.
And now? Well, I haven’t had an appointment from the Imaging department or the other clinic. So I guess I’ll have to do what I’m getting used to doing. And wait.

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