Thursday, 5 August 2010

Patience is a necessity. Not a virtue.

I'll start with a question.

If you were given something to do at work, and it was marked urgent, how long do you reckon it'd take you to do?

A) A day?

B) A week?

C) More than a week?

D) A fortnight?

E) Um ... Meh. Dunno. Pass me one of those cakes whilst I check facebook. LOL at those kittens.

If you answered E then you clearly haven't understood the meaning of the word urgent (requiring immediate action or attention; imperative; pressing) or, you work for the National Health Service*.

Two weeks ago my Doctor requested that I urgently had a Mirena coil inserted. The urgency wasn't because I was about to go on holiday, or to placate me because it meant a four month delay before IVF. It was because I have pre-cancerous cells bedding down in the lining of my womb and the coil is supposed to halt that growth.

The way that the NHS works means that there isn't a one-stop shop where I could get this done. My Doctor is based in the Reproductive Medicine Unit, the coil get shoved up by the specialist in the Gynaecology Unit. Physically the two units are separated by a corridor, but practically they are fathoms apart.

I saw my Doctor sign the bright yellow appointment sheet. I witnessed him tick the box marked 'urgent' rather than 'routine'.

And then nothing.

I appreciate that, despite the urgency, an appointment might still take a couple of weeks but I expected at least to get a date for the appointment quickly.

I have rung the clinic and received no response.

I have rung the Reproductive Medicine Unit and was told that the appointment request had been faxed to the Gynaecology unit.


Can I bring to you attention three points:

1. He used a bright yellow sheet of paper to denote the urgency and then faxed it. (For those young enough not to know what a fax is, whatever you send through comes out in black and white.)
2. The clinic in receipt of the fax is less than 30 seconds walk away, you don't even need to go up steps to take it there.
3. It is 2010.

So I ring again. I leave messages. I wait.

Today I left a message on an answer phone that specifies they only return calls Tuesday to Thursday. As I didn't get a returned call I can only suppose that what they actually mean is; they might possibly return a call Tuesday to Thursday, but you haven't got a hope in hell of getting a
response any other day of the week.

So I guess now it'll be next Tuesday at the earliest before I am likely to hear anything. Meanwhile time continues to seep away.

Waiting. That is the worst thing about this whole infuriating process.

No wonder the NHS calls its 'clients' patients.

* Obviously there are many, many wonderful people who work for the NHS not least my twin sister, my step-sister, Eunice, The Doc and The Dude. But seriously guys, a small number of colleagues are dragging down this wonderful institution's reputation.


  1. As a government employee (in a crime lab), I have found through experience (in my position only) that things that are "urgent" would usually be better served by waiting 24 hours to see what happens during the course of the investigation. So, my answer is E. In fact, I have 3-4 "urgent" things sitting on my desk right now. But, then, usually my "urgent" things involve people who are already dead.

    However, in healthcare, it's an entirely different story. I'm sure that by the 3rd time someone had ignored my phone call, I would be arrested for disturbing the peace because I would go to their offices and find out exactly what their problem was. Loudly, and vehemently.

  2. Hokay. This is JUST the sort of thing that gets my blood boiling, and I encounter about once a month on average, given that self & son are the lucky types that are obliged to interact with NHS bureaucracy far too often.

    My advice: ring the switchboard, and ask for the hospital PALS, the Patient Advice & Liaison Service. They are usually nice types, and Know Who Is Who. Explain, and express a desire to make a sharp complaint to the relevant departments. In my experience, this tends to shift the bungage like a pint of castor oil.


  4. What HFF said.

    Also, on your behalf, AAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH.

    God, they make me cross, those bureacratic little numbnut jobsworths clogging the NHS machine up like hairballs and interfering with the hard work of all the GOOD doctors and nurses who actually care about their patients. NNNNYRGH.

    And so on.

  5. ugh... that sucks! so frustrating. i hope you're able to get through to them and get the coil sooner rather than later.

  6. Shit, Liz. This blows. I'm so sorry that you're having to deal with this--as if worrying about IF and creepy cells wasn't scary and uncertain enough. And really? Call backs only Tuesday - Thursday? I have never heard of such a thing. GRRRRRR...

  7. Ughhhhh so frustrating! I'm sorry. The better call you Tuesday!!! It amazes me how behind the times some medical places are. I always think...if I worked here I would hire completely differnt people and we would get shit done!

  8. Ah jeez. Even with all the delays and cock-ups so far they never cease to disappoint...

    I totally support HFF's suggestion. And, I know its cheap and tacky, but I wouldn't hold back on mentioning the C word. That should move them up a gear.

    Here is another one: call the switchboard and ask to be put through to a real person in the Gyny Unit - and NOT the number with the recorded message which it clearly intended to protect them from the barrage of harrassment from angry patients. (And why are they angry? BECAUSE of the recorded message. Its all nonsense.)

    The sad thing is that there are probably many competent and diligent people there - you just have to fight through a barrage of administration to reach them. But you will!

    Good luck xx

    G x

  9. Inefficient much?
    That urgent slip should be self explanatory.

  10. Apparently, they became stuck while opening the cake packaging and have not managed to find their way out again. I'm not even going to say "how frustrating" at this point because "frustrating" denotes a situation that - while it might put one out - doesn't necessarily cause harm. But this is a few notches up from frustrating, and you have every reason to be deeply irritated by this delay.

    I am crossing fingers that ringing the PALS line lights a fire under someone's butt, somewhere. SOON.

  11. Any chance you could go back to your doctor and ask for his help with expediting the impossible that is an urgent request, as well as trying the PALS route?

  12. Lame, kick em in the knee caps, or I could. Wow, hang in there lovely lady.

  13. What a bunch of crap! I'm sorry you have to have the coil in the first place. Dealing with the NHS bullshit is just icing on the cake.

  14. What a bunch of escargots plus their system is ancient history - who uses a fax machine these days. This whole process is certainly trying on the patience. Let's hope you hear from them next week. I'll have my fingers and toes crossed for you.

  15. Areyoukiddingme, I know every one must say this to you but HOW COOL DOES YOUR JOB SOUND?!

    HFF, you are a Godsend. (And you have sorted out what I am doing Monday morning).

    Nuts, I couldn’t have put it better myself. In fact, I didn’t put it better myself.

    Me too, Lisa

    Trinity, You couldn’t make it up! (I didn’t make it up).

    JC, If we worked there things would be different (for a start I’d schedule my own appointments!)

    You want me to call them Cunts G? Harsh. Oh and I have the name, it was the named person’s answer phone that only calls back Tues to Thurs.

    You’d think, deardarl

    That packaging can be right tricksy, Adele

    I got the details of the fax from my Doctor, TheSheila, that is as far as the help goes.

    -K, do it. Just come to London and their knee caps are yours.

    The icing on the cake they are eating Kelly!

    Thanks, Cat Lady, but don’t cripple yourself. I have a feeling they’d have to be crossed for quite sometime.

  16. OH WOW! This is the sort of thing that would have me in tears of rage, which are unfortunately very incapacitating. So sorry!

  17. I think this is my first time commenting but I figure that anyone who gets a thumbs up from HFF and May should be visited on a regular basis.

    You must be going bezerk with frustration. Totally second HFF's suggestion of PALS. I would also hound the doctor in the RMU who could put a rocket up the Gyn dept on your behalf. Unfortunately the drs and nurses are ill served by the jobsworths on the desks who gate keep in the most appalling way. longer term if you are in a foundation trust become a member and then you have an extra string to pull as the last thing any dept wants is a bunch of trustees deciding to investigate their practices. This stuff is only going to get worse in the new regime as the c word won't mean a 2 week turnaround for an appt anymore and that was one target that actually worked.

    Hope you get that appt soon. Oh further thought - could your gp or local family planning clinic do it?

  18. Bunny I do feel quite impotent with rage - which is why it is lucky I am on birth control!

    Thanks for visiting Betty, HFF and May are indeed arbiters of taste! That is a great idea re: family planning clinics. I will get on to them on Monday. Thanks, you are welcome here any time!

  19. God. This makes me want to scream and swear with anger and frustration. I am so sorry that you are having to deal with further delays and bureaucratic inefficiencies on top of everything else. Hope you get sorted very soon!

  20. Oh man. Blood pressure rising.. GAAAAAAH.

    A good scream might be the thing now. Failing that, or if you are in a public place and don't care for being carted off by men in white coats, Betty and HFF know stuff, and have great advice.
    Hopefully this will be resolved soon. Like, by now? OH COME ON NHS.


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