Monday, 2 December 2019

Sometimes the NHS is just crap

Invited by text to book a free shingles injection, I tried to ring the surgery for an appointment. After several layers of the usual “For an appointment press 1...” game, I entered the last option and the line went dead, Tried again checking that all options were valid, entered the last option and the line went dead again. Tried one last time but still the line went dead. Okay, system doesn’t work so I’ll try again some other time.

Mrs H has been unwell, is no better after a few days and clearly needs an appointment with a doctor but it is Sunday. No problem, the internet says there is a local NHS weekend service operated by a group of local surgeries. Just ring this number and -

- and the line goes dead. Try again – nope the line goes dead. Try again – nope the line goes dead.Try the surgeries which make up the weekend group –

Surgery 1 – closed. Surgery 2 – closed. Surgery 3 – closed. Surgery 4 – closed. Give up and wait until Monday.

Monday arrives and Mrs H tries to phone the surgery. Lines too busy to join the call queue. Call again – still too busy. After more than 30 calls Mrs H gets onto the queue and eventually gets her appointment and prescription, which is for an antibiotic which has been around for decades. We knew this would probably be the outcome. So would any pharmacist.

It’s the NHS. Can be okay, can be good, can be crap. It isn’t always money as apologists and political charlatans claim. Too often it is people, motives and incentives. As for the politics, the Labour party needs a mediocre NHS as an emotive stick with which to bash the Tories. So we have a mediocre NHS.


Sam Vega said...

Crap NHS stories are so common that they are a genre all to themselves. Someone needs to publish a book of them.

Here's my contribution. Five years ago, I had intermittent chest pains and sometimes felt my heart was racing and irregular. Fed up with my grumbling and still preferring me to the insurance pay-out, Mrs V. sent me off to the doc and so a battery of tests started. They found nothing wrong; intercostal muscle pain (probably caused by cycling) and too much coffee. First issue was that, having done the tests, they neglected to tell me the outcome. Months of waiting and the I had to book an appointment just to be told I was OK.

The second issue was when, later that year, I went to a scheduled blood donation. Question on sheet: "Have you been investigated for chest pains since last donating?"

I explained the situation but was told I couldn't donate.

"But I've been given the all-clear!"

"You could just be saying that, Sir. We need a doctor's letter to prove it"

"But I could have just been saying that I have been investigated. You didn't need a doctor's letter to prove that bit!"

"But you told us that you had been investigated, Sir..."

But I also told you I got the all clear..."

As to where the fault lies in the NHS, the individual medics are often excellent. Whoever organises them (i.e. whoever tries to get more value out of them for the same input) seem to be the loons

Michael said...

Pembury (T.Wells), hospital is superb - Mrs O'Blene couldn't have had better attention, but local surgeries suffer from what is probably Labour's original way of paying doctors more, by letting them do a day here, a day there, a day off, to maximise their money.

What really pisses us off, is that you can only be ill during the week! Weekends just don't figure at all on NHS schedules.

Edward Spalton said...

I have to say that my experience is quite different - both for the few minor procedures I have had in the Royal Derby hospital and from our local GP practice. I can’t be sure of getting an appointment with a specific doctor but, if I phone at 8.00 am sharp, I get an answering machine which tells me my number in the queue and, after a few minutes wait, I can usually get a same day appointment.

The last time I did this was because I was feeling wretchedly tired and had been for some months. I got an appointment for 9.30 when the doctor decided I needed a batttery of blood tests, after which he would see me in a week. By hanging around for half an hour, I got the blood tests. Then, the very next day the doctor phoned me to,say he had the results and I was very short of Vitamin D3 . If called at the village chemist, I could pick up the prescription - and he would see me again next week.

Maybe it was the Vitamin or perhaps the splendid service but I was feeling much better a week later.

On the other hand, I was a junior minister in a Church in Staffordshire and the tales of neglect and inefficiency from members of the congregation were such that i resolved, if taken ill suddenly, to get myself over the county boundary if at all possible.

wiggiatlarge said...

As with everyone else there are two sides to the NHS, generally the hospital side has been very good, the failure is at GP level, getting an appointment has become like winning the lottery, pot luck, four weeks here, not much good if you need to see someone urgently and those slots are few and far between.
Again the sugery is often virtually empty now as the number of doctors on duty dives as they are all seemingly on three day weeks, and the nurse practitioners lauded when they first employed them to take up some slack, never stay and again are reduced in numbers, other local surgeries are the same with an ever increasing patient list as they continue to build endless estates with no extra infrastructure.

I have had more than one "moment " with my surgery, just over two years ago after feeling on and off unwell for probably weeks intermittently I decided to go to my GP, could not get an appointment despite spelling out my worries and lack of indication as to what was ailing me.

I tried for a week on the phone to get an appointment and failed to get one even when I eventually got through, at the weekend I decided I would on Monday morning go in personally and insist on seeing a doctor.
On the Monday morning whilst in the bathroom I started to feel dreadful came out sat on the bed and past out/collapsed, an ambulance was called and I was after terrific assessment from the paramedics taken straight into the emergency ward at the N&N, where it was revealed after tests and scans I had a large blood clot on each lung and clots on the feeder arteries, all ended well but before release the senior nurse in charge of the anti coagulation unit told me I was extremely lucky and had at the most if I had not got to hospital 48 hours.

What came from this is why am I screened for an appointment by an unqualified receptionist who reads from a prepared script, there must be in similar situations an awful lot of people who never got the 48 hrs grace I did, at surgery level greed has overtaking patient care, our surgery didn't even want to be responsible for testing my blood levels when I was released, wanting the hospital to continue doing it, only a very good senior nurse who threatened them with the medical council got them to reverse their decision.

I could give further examples of incompetence but that would get even more boring, the answer, at the moment there isn't one and more and more surgeries are going this way.

wiggiatlarge said...

I should have added, if you think I was unlucky and this was a one off, think again, in the emergency ward of eight beds, three I discovered had the same problem with different surgeries, one eventually drove to his surgery and insisted on being seen, he was diagnosed immediately with blood clots and the ambulance was called out, he had to leave his car at the surgery, the other in the bed next to me had the same thing but his wife had driven him to the surgery and after an examination again an ambulance was called all of us had failed to get a GP appointment in the normal way.

A K Haart said...

Sam - I agree, individual medics and nursing staff can be good, but the systems they have to follow can be dire.

Scrobs - that's what we find - erratic surgeries which are sometimes good to okay and sometimes poor.

Edward - we have to ring at 8.00 am sharp, but there is no answering machine capable of giving us a queue number. Not only that, but the phone queue is short so we have to call over and over again to hit it at just the right moment. Absurd but it never changes.

Wiggia - that's our experience - hospital usually good but failures at GP level. We have similar problems getting an appointment.

Edward Spalton said...

Well, I can only think that our good fortune is due to the management of the practice. You pick up the atmosphere when you walk in.
When I was my own salesman, visiting potential customers all over the British Isles, I noticed the same thing. If the atmosphere felt right,
there was usually a chance of doing some business. If the receptionist was an ill tempered gorgon or dull eyed and sullen, it was not a good sign.