It’s now nine years since I formally retired as a full time Practice Manager although even this year I have been drawn back to work in a Practice ‘helping out’. Nowadays I am more of a user of NHS services and start to question even more and more the quality and standards of the services I am offered added to that the expense!
I was referred earlier in the year for a second operation on the same site in two years. The referral and process to a first hospital appointment were prompt only to be let down by ridiculous waiting lists that caused undue distress and major expense. The referral for an ultrasound was efficient and prompt with a 15 mile trip to a remote village surgery where the equipment had been transported in from Blackpool. The results were clear an operation was needed and an E-referral was made on the NHS but to a private hospital. This involved a train journey and long walk to the hospital and an examination which can only be described as cruel and extremely painful. I took an instant dislike to the consultant.
I was invited for a preoperative assessment the following week in late April which I attended (50 mile round trip) after which I received an operation date in June. Considering the pain I was already suffering I was astounded. I could not quite understand the decision to carry out a preoperative assessment over six weeks before the operation. As a layman I did not consider this good practice.
I contacted another private hospital in the same group was was offered a consultation with a consultant the next day and an operation the following Saturday – 11 May. It made a big £4,000 hole in my pocket (and pension) but to me the pain was a deciding factor. The operation was carried out and at the end of the year I am more comfortable and in far less pain but suspect that I will never be in perfect health.
In general practice again I find myself lucky if I speak to a GP on the morning of the request. It’s rarely the same GP and I feel there is much repetition and little continuity. A member of my family was offered a telephone consultation in a weeks time. I find too that there is a drive to change medication and alter repeat medications not always to the benefit of a patients health. I have also witnessed a case of a drug being refused in writing only to find a text message from the pharmacy to collect said refused prescription. Has general practice actually lost the thread. So wrapped up in meeting targets can it no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel.