Dear NHS…

… I don't cry easily. It's important that you understand this, because how else can you measure the impact your total fuckwittery is having on me when I say that, having opened your latest letter, I had to sit down and shed many tears of frustration? Because the appointment you've given me at the fracture clinic – the same fracture clinic I was advised to switch to because I'd get seen faster than using Choose and Book – is 14 December. That's two and a half months after the fracture occured. It's also two weeks after the earliest appointment I could have got with Choose and Book, which presumably I've now lost because I've spent a week waiting for this letter.

And it's not even an appointment at the actual clinic, it's an appointment for an x-ray. An x-ray which I could get tomorrow morning, within an hour of arriving, if I walked in with a referral letter my GP can print off in 30 seconds. An x-ray which would still take an entire week to get the results back from, so that's 21 December if we're lucky, and is it likely I would have got treatment before Christmas? Probably not. Just as well I splashed out £100 on my own supportive equipment really.

I'm guessing that my GP has yet again marked the referral as 'routine'. Well guess what matey; it's not routine any more. It fucking hurts when I walk unsupported. I'm not even 100% it's the same bone that's broken. How do I know it's not got complicated? How do I know it's healing properly? Without professional medical attention I can't; I can only fumble around and guess.

I'm going to have to go sit in A&E, aren't I? Where they will again mark me as non-urgent, because I've walked in, am not gushing blood and look as though I'm already undergoing treatment. I'm going to have to waste some overtired, stressed out A&E doctor's time because you can't fit me in any other way. I'm going to have to sit in Lewisham A&E for I-have-no-idea-how-long, and I bet Lewisham A&E is a simply brilliant place to spend a long amount of time.

I hope you're happy with yourself.

Yours,

Rachel.

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6 responses to “Dear NHS…

  1. Tom November 11, 2009 at 9:26 am

    First off, obviously sorry to hear this. It sounds shit and awful.
    No idea what the correct course of action might be, but I’d recommend heading to Lewisham A&E. Went there myself after an epic pratfall (tripped over Ralph 3hrs before getting on a plane to South Korea, hobbled around Asia on fantastically swolen and magnificently painful foot for seven days while quaffing mysterious painkillers, then headed straight for the NHS on return) and they were great – signed in as a non-emergency, obviously, but still got X-ray of my foot/ankle and results within 2 hours, on a Friday Night, and the staff couldn’t have been nicer. Possibly because I was one of two non-drunk people there, but never mind.
    Alternatively, if you’re working somewhere central, I believe the Dean Street walk-in centre refers people to the X-ray unit up the road. There’s usually a big wait, but again I’ve had excellent help from them.

  2. Rachel November 11, 2009 at 10:48 am

    This is heartening! I’ve had experiences of hours and hours and hours in A&E before now – two hours sounds nice. About enough time to finish a book, I reckon.
    Anyway, am now through the frustrated and upset phase and back into pissed off and swinging into action phase. If ‘sitting in A&E’ can be classed as ‘swinging’ And ‘Saturday’ be described as ‘action’.
    (That does sound like a fabulous pratfall, btw. The kind of thing that would earn you £££ on TV shows around the world.)

  3. Will November 11, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    In the hospital here they serve you tea!
    This probably doesn’t help you, so I’d advise the drop in centre on Dean Street too. There are others, but I’ve only used that one.

  4. Liz November 11, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Just come out of a lecture about secondary care efficiencies, the gist of which was keep people out of hospitals at all costs, because it costs a lot. And yet, as you elegantly demonstrate, far from effective gatekeeping in primary care, the system is driving you in to A&E.
    Being a health services researcher is feeling as frustrated as you are now, only all the time!

  5. Max November 11, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    You can still consider yourself lucky that you haven’t got anything extremely serious because if that happened near Lewisham Hospital then they’ll come and take you with an air ambulance somewhere else (example http://www.mercury-today.co.uk/tn/news.cfm?id=18117 ).
    One of the little known things is that if you have a heart attack the ambulance people won’t bring you to Lewisham, even if it happened on its doorstep. There are a few other A&E that are blacklisted, I heard reliable information of 5 hospitals across London where ambulances wouldn’t bring you a heart attack even if you happen to be near.

  6. Dave November 11, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to go to the Minor Injury Clinic at Barts. Unless you actually enjoy being treated like a retarded and inconvenient piece of shit before being (literally) mistreated, that is.
    Seriously though – sorry about your foot and the consequent NHS frustrations. Just because the NHS is free, and has been known to stop critically ill people from dying once in a while, does not mean that we all have to constantly sing their praises and add a stupid little icon to our Twitter avatars as if they are a football team that we support.
    … and breathe…

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