Friday, 11 June 2010

London Calling

When I picked up the answer phone message telling me that my appointment had been cancelled they left a phone number to call if I needed further information.

I decided, on balance, that I probably did need a bit of further information, specifically when my appointment was rescheduled for. I tend to be a bit anal about these sorts of things, which is an interesting juxtaposition to my appointments which tend to be quite vaginial. (Yessss! back on the sex gags.)

Now commenters, dear, dear commenters who said things like: "They should have at least given you the next available date, meaning tomorrow!" and "Usually when doctor's need to reschedule, their little assistant person will be asking if you can come in the following Monday or something". I love you, I love your boundless optimism.

Allow me to explain how it works here: The National Health Service, as an institution, hasn't quite bought into the whole service industry culture of private institutions (I refer you to my earlier post). The NHS doesn't have customers, it has patients. And oh boy, do we have to be patient. I have every expectation I will just go straight back to the end of the queue and start again. But I don't want to give away the punch line, lets see what happened:

I phoned the number.

I heard a long dialling tone. Indicating the number didn't work.

I called the nurses (Eunice) I left an answer phone message.

I rang the operator, I explained the original number didn't work.

I was put through to another number, an automated message line.
  • Dial one to speak to a secretary NOT about appointments
  • Dial two for new appointments
  • Dial three for follow up appointments
  • Dial four to listen to a mechanical rendition of Greensleeves
  • Dial five if you want Moldova to win the Eurovision Song contest
  • Dial six if you have lost the will to live.
I dialled three, the line went dead.

I called the operator. I explained what had happened.

The operators fiddled about with some knobs (or that is what I imagined him doing, pulling leads in and out of a big switchboard - I've seen the movies).

The operator told me they had transferred numbers through to the wrong phones which had caused an error. He told me he was getting somewhere.

I was put through to a number, the same automated message line. (Repeat as above).

I rang the nurses again. I spoke to someone (not Eunice). I explained that I couldn't get through the the correct line she told me the phone lines had been playing up. I resisted the urge to say "No shit". She tried to transfer me. She couldn't.

She took my number and said someone would call me back.

See, who says big institutions lack a sense of humour?

Eventually at four thirty today just for fun I tried the number again.

I spoke to someone. He wasn't what I expected, he sounded like his Friday night had already started.

I told him I'd had an appointment cancelled.

"Oh yeah, for IVF, innit?"

I concurred it was indeed. Apparently they'd had to cancel three days worth of appointments and:
"We're making it our priority to sort everything out. Don't worry about it we'll get in touch with you next week. But you know, call back on Monday if you want."

I might just do that.


  1. Oh Christ, Liz.
    That's just fucking... believable. So, so believable.

    I am beginning to think that the provinces have a rawer deal in terms of treatment options (the fancy ground-breaking stuff only happens in the smoke, it seems) but at least we are dealing with a local unit with low-ish staff turnover and reasonable waiting times. London seems to be so awfully, terribly pressured, both in terms of appointment waits and straightforward access to clinics.

    Annnd it sucks a clown's balls. So sorry.

  2. *Head...desk*

    I believe in socialised medicine. I do I do I do. I just wish it believed in us.

  3. Well, while I was waiting for them to call me back, I would be building pipe bombs to send them in the mail. That way, they'd at least finally have a valid excuse for cancelling my appointment.

    Damn, but I am a spoiled American. Much luck. I hope you get a new appointment...hmmm, I was going to say soon, but I think I shall settle for someday.

  4. I understand your pain of the NHS. It is shit over here when they just cancel on us for no reason. It is a joke trying to actually speak to anyone, let alone get another appointment.

    I def would call back Monday! Good luck!

  5. Oh For Fuck's Sake! The NHS over there must be even more of a farce than the catastrophy we have here.

  6. I guess I was too optimistic, or shall I say naive :-( Well, I'm still going to cross my fingers and toes for you.

  7. holy crap Liz, I forgot how terrible the NHS can be... still, this is bad even by their standards.

  8. Just reading your post made me angry. That is incredibly frustrating. I disovered the other day that they'd been sending test results to the house i grew up in 20 years ago. And when I alerted them to my change in address the computers went down. We should decamp to another borough.

  9. O.M.G.
    Dialing 6 - the blessed NHS has driven me over the edge.

    Urg, urg, URG.

  10. Dial 7 if you want to take a knife and stab yourself in the head repetitively out of frustration.... Very glad to have you back Liz!!

  11. F*cking frustrating.

    I'm sorry.

  12. ARGGGGH. Just reading this made me feel antsy and frustrated. Hope you have a good and restful weekend so you have some energy to wrangle those phone lines come Monday!

  13. I am so frustrated reading this. Seems like banging your head against a wall ... repeatedly. ugh. I hope you hear back from them this week.

  14. How incredibly frustrating. I'm so sorry!

  15. Man, that would be annoying... to say the least! So sorry that you have to deal with that kind of crap, on top of everything else!


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