I’ve ranted about this before but since very little has changed, I’m ranting about it again.
How difficult is it for you to get an appointment with the G.P. of your choice… when you actually need it that is? How long does it take you to get through to a human voice? ……thirty minutes or more? How long until you even get the automated recording telling you that all lines are busy (duh!) but just in case you’ve forgotten, you’re treated to the ‘rules’ regarding the appropriate times to call if you’re looking for a repeat prescription or results of tests or need to see a nurse or… etc., etc., In the meantime, with ‘phone clapped to ear, you are desperately attempting to make yourself presentable ( have you tried putting on a nylon ‘knee-high’ with one hand) in the event that you will be offered an early appointment, while your anger issues and blood pressure are being severely challenged……only to be told that there are no appointments to be had that day. The doctor of your choice, however, can see you two weeks hence.
‘I’ll take any doctor,’ you say wearily……’
‘Sorry, as I’ve already said, there are no available appointments today…. is it an emergency?….. can you tell me why you wish to see the doctor….I could pass on word and see if doctor would ‘phone you at home…..’cept he/she can’t do it today or tomorrow as he/she has no available telephone appointments for some time……you can always try again tomorrow morning.’……… For one brief moment I actually think about unburdening myself to the receptionist – euphoric am I that I am actually talking to a ‘shuman bean’ at last! However, I quickly regain my clear thinking head…. is patient/doctor confidentiality no more? Is it right that my ‘case’ be discussed with the receptionist and overheard by all at the surgery? I think not……
‘I’ll try again tomorrow but in the meantime I’ll have the appointment two weeks from now’…. I take myself, two painkillers and my niggly pain back to bed. Nostalgia overwhelms me. In the ‘olden days’ I would have already taken myself and my niggly pain to the surgery where I would have sat in a queue waiting to see the doctor. Now, I may well have waited an hour or more but I knew my turn would come. That same day, I would have been diagnosed, the ailment explained, been given a prescription to ease my pain and been alerted to any further action required…. and I would know what I was dealing with instead of letting my imagination run riot for days or weeks on end…… If I am feeling adventurous I could surf the net, of course, and diagnose my own ailment….which may put my mind at ease (unlikely!) or on the other hand it might scare the living daylights (or the holy c—) out of me ( a good purge of the bowels was always what was required for the restoration of one’s good health – according to my mother, that is). Surgeries now have upwards of four doctors, much larger and more comfortable waiting areas, nurses who could take vitals before being seen by the doctor – but mainly, it would negate the need for incessant ‘phoning for appointments from early morning………..leaving lines free for those who required urgent attention or a housecall perhaps…… I have a plan……but I know, I know……. how can ‘going back’ be progress?
Very recently, a dear friend of mine, who suffers from depression, had a call from her doctor’s surgery…. from the receptionist: ‘Hello, Mrs X? I’m calling to let you know that the proposed appointment with the orthopaedic consultant has been cancelled. He wont be seeing you until you’ve lost weight…… do you want me to read out his letter?’ My friend declined the offer. Now, here’s the thing. She has an email address. Could this letter not have been forwarded to her and the telephone call used merely to alert her to the fact? What is wrong with people!
How long should it take to discover what the radiographer saw in you?…. I’m talking X-rays here. Not too long methinks. Ms.X called her surgery (as instructed by the hospital) one week after having her knee x-rayed. The receptionist confirmed that they had her results but to ‘phone back as the doctor hadn’t yet seen them. She has phoned every day for almost a week. She lives in hope.
Three months ago I was prescribed Vitamin D tablets. ‘You’ll be on these long term,’ I was told. I applied for a repeat prescription. I received a phone call from the receptionist …… ‘The Doctor will not be issuing another prescription but you should be able to buy a supply at the chemist or supermarket if you wish..’…Hm…long term seems pretty short term to me…… and how do I (or the doctor for that matter) know if I still need them?…..
When I need to see a doctor now, I begin preparing from the night before……..First, I need to know and lay out exactly what I intend to wear and second, I set my alarm to one hour before 0830hrs (it is so decreed that no one may ‘phone before this time). At 0730 hrs I get up and execute ‘Stage 1’ of the process (ablutions, etc.,), I reset the alarm to 0815hrs, jump(?) back into bed and key the surgery number into the ‘phone. All that remains for me to do, on the stroke of 0829 hrs, is press ‘call’. It has to be said that I have been known to sleep through the 0730hrs alarm and even the 0815hrs ( and it buzzes at least fifty times!!) However, I have NEVER managed to make successful contact with my first attempted phonecall let alone my fifty first but I would really love to meet anyone who has……perhaps they have a strategy which they could be persuaded to share with less imaginative patients like myself: (CALL….END….REPEAT…CALL…END… REPEAT…. …CALL…END…REPEAT… ad nauseum…..). And another thing….I used to like that piece of music called ‘The Entertainer’ but since it has now become synonymous with, ‘better luck next time – keeeeeeeep trying!’ it is quickly climbing up my ‘Unpop Chart’ of ‘Least Favourite Myoozical Interloods’…….
….. only the memory of Robert Redford and Paul Newman in ‘The Sting’ keeps it from reaching No.1!
I am well aware that many readers experience nothing but exemplary treatment and would not be able to recount even a mildly disappointing, medically related anecdote. They are very fortunate. My main gripe, however, relates to matters of poor organisation, poor communication and often poor interpersonal skills. I like it when nurses ‘dress like nurses’ and doctors like doctors. I like being able to quickly identify ‘who is in charge’ and see them use their status effectively eg., by enforcing ‘hospital rules and regulations’ for the benefit of their charges. There are many fine consultants, doctors and nurses around who embody, completely, my ideal of the ‘caring, healing profession’ but, I’m sorry, there are also those who, it would seem, have never been acquainted with the term ‘bedside manner’ ….. yes, yes, I know …… I’m living in the past and this is the 21st century…….. but not everything from past times is rubbish you know….. many ‘babies were thrown out with bathwater’ in the name of progress…. but at what cost?…. When a system ‘works’ …. and this happens in all organisations……shouldn’t it be ‘worked on’ to enhance and improve it even further before sweeping changes are made? One new boss, when challenged about his innovative (and expensive!) new scheme which he was on the threshold of implementing, was asked,
‘ Why are you dismissing out of hand, something that is working so well?’ ‘Because I can’, he replied smugly.
So…… where have all the leaders gone? The world needs them now….. everywhere….. and just like my ideal doctor…… I want he/she to look like a leader, sound like a leader and behave like one. I want someone with real knowledge of the remit, who can surround him/herself with an equally knowledgeable team helping him/her always to see the bigger picture. He/She has to be honest and transparent, be a good orator and a good listener and be completely averse to ‘bullshitting’ ………. now, is that too much to ask? Oh, and another thing…….must have a sense of humour. To be fair….. I’d like everyone to have those attributes…….Come to think of it……. a lot of my friends have….. aren’t I lucky! Now let’s see if any of them would like to apply for a job………. x
I found this among my souvenirs : Author unknown – but it made us laugh back in the day….. ..verily it did….
‘In the beginning was the report and then came the assumptions.
The assumptions were without form and the report was completely without substance and darkness was on the faces of the workers and they spake unto their PT’s saying, ‘It is a crock of shit and it stinketh,’ and the PT’s went unto their AHT’s and said, ‘It is a pail of dung and none may abide the odour thereof.’
And the AHT’s went unto their deputy rectors and said, ‘ It contains that which aids plant growth and it is very strong,’ and the rectors went to their director saying, ‘It promoteth growth and is very powerful,’ and the director went unto the minister saying, ‘This powerful new initiative will actually promote the development and efficiency of teachers and is strongly recommended.’
And the minister looked upon the report and saw that it was good.
And the report became policy…………