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NHS on fire!

  • Posted by Giraffe-a-licious
  • 6 Dec 07, 1:30 PM

I do love the NHS. Honest, I do. I’m well aware that we Brits are fortunate to have a healthcare system that provides for us without the necessity of medical insurance. Of course, strictly speaking it isn’t free (National Insurance contributions and all that) but it is something of a lifeline to those of us who are unable to work and so cannot pay for insurance or treatment. I’ve seen enough episodes of ER to know that I’d far rather live with the dodgy NHS than with the American system.

However sometimes the inefficiency of it all just drives you mad. I’ve had thyroid problems on and off over the years and have an annual appointment (allegedly with the consultant, although it’s almost always one of his lackeys… er sorry… registrars) for a brief check-up. The last time I saw someone was October 2006, at which I was given my next appointment date – December 2007. Last week I received a letter reminding me about the appointment. All fine and dandy so far. Yesterday I received another letter. This time I was told that the clinic had been cancelled and I was given a new appointment date – for August 2008! My appointment had been postponed by a whole 8 months! I was not a happy bunny, given that I’ve been concerned with some of my recent blood test results and had in any case decided that should the registrar not take me seriously, I would stage a sit-in until I saw the head honcho.

So I got on the old dog-and-bone and got passed around various receptionists and secretaries until I was finally able to get a cancellation appointment next month. It all turned out OK in the end but surely an 8 month delay cannot be completely necessary. And to only let me know the week before hand? I got the impression that the consultant is either on holiday or away at a conference. If that’s the case then surely the clinic must have known about it before now!

I was provided with further evidence of the - almost comic if it wasn’t so worrying - ineptitude of the NHS earlier in the week. My sister and I were at the hospital doing our weekly radio show. We were just coming to the end of it and we hear the oh-so-welcome sound of the fire alarm. We were very responsible and left everything as it was and headed outside. No-one seemed to have a clue what was going on and if they did then they weren’t going to let us in on it! Three fire engines turned up. From what we could overhear it appeared that there was no fire but that no-one could switch the alarm off. It was freezing cold and my legs were not happy about being required for such a period of time. Eventually we took matters into our own hands and asked a passing security guard if we could go inside. “Yes,” he said. Well thanks very much for letting us know. Goodness knows how long we’d have been out there if we hadn’t piped up. Heading back inside it became apparent that the role of the three fire-engines full of firemen (none of them young and cute by the way – very disappointing!) was to break down a door to get into the office where the fire alarm could be shut off. Why the blinking heck did no-one have a key to that office? What’s more I bet they don’t learn anything from the whole debacle. A year or so down the line chances are that those firemen will be back to hack the replacement door down.

I do love the NHS. Honest, I do.

•Visit Ponderings and Ruminations

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