The frustrations of the NHS
I was feeling the first signs of a water infection AGAIN! I had that about a month ago so was not best pleased. I took the usual cranberry juice and sachets with magic ingredients but instead of clearing it, I knew it was beginning to take hold.
I phoned the doctor at midday and was told I needed to phone first thing the next morning for an appointment as there were no bookings available for the next day until ‘more were released’.
Disappointed but not surprised.
That night was painful and found me getting up at 2am and not returning to bed until after 4.30am. When 8.30am came I was on the phone with it on re-dial in an attempt to get through.
As expected, when I got to speak to someone, although the phone lines had only been open a few minutes, the receptionist told me that there were no appointments until late afternoon. The thought of spending that time with no help in the form of antibiotics and the infection taking a greater hold was not good. However, when I told her what the problem was her tone changed and she suggested she got the doctor to ring me – ‘you can’t wait all day’ she said.
When I had the same infection recently, that was exactly what had happened. I was in London, in agony and needed to see a doctor first thing the next day but there were no bookable appointments. Rather than make me wait, possibly not to get an appointment, the doctor phoned me and left a prescription for me so I could get the medication started as soon as I got home. I was therefore surprised that I could be treated the same way again.
The doctor phoned within half an hour and agreed that the previous course had probably not been long enough so would prescribe some more. I was to leave a water sample for them to check that the tablets were the right ones.
This experience of the National Health Service had me going from despair to delight. From a position of dread of having to wait an age for some treatment to relief that the medicine could be taken straight away. Doctors receptionists often get bad press for being too nosey about your symptoms and trying to give you the diagnosis on the phone. Most of the annoyance I suspect comes from the answer being ‘there are no appointments’. My recent experience was that they do not pry now but if you do tell them some of the details they can direct you to the appropriate ‘first stage’ of treatment whether that is a call from a GP or seeing a nurse practitioner.
It is not so much a ‘holding the barricades’ approach as getting as many people dealt with as possible. Providing it is only that initial stage, I think that is OK.
It’s a funny situation isn’t it. What has been your experience of our wonderful NHS? Has the receptionist been devil or angel?