Its that time again, and next on the agenda for shit they don’t teach you at school is all things health. From knowing your rights regards appointments, to getting the best treatment, #LifeSchool will give you the tips your Teacher never did.
HEALTH IS IMPORTANT! STAND UP FOR IT!
Looking after the health of you and your family is so important, and to be honest that’s the biggest thing you ever need to remember when trying to get things sorted out.
Even if your ailment is minor, your GP should be respectful- if it’s something that’s a cause for concern to you, it should be a cause for concern for them too.
Of course, we all hope that we will get the best care out there, and that we will have a long and friendly acquaintance with our chosen GP.
GP NEEDING A CHECK ON THEIR BEDSIDE MANNER? WHAT CAN YOU DO?
With Doctors- be they your common and garden GP, to your surgeon and Consultant, no matter how many letters they have after their names, its never a foregone conclusion that you will gel with them.
The same can be said for Midwives, Health Visitors, and Nurses too.
In life you will always find someone that you just cannot work with positively for whatever reason, and, of course, in that situation you would do your best to avoid them. With a Healthcare professional, that’s not so simple.
If you do find you are missing out on healthcare and relying on the oh so available, but not ever so reliable, Doctor Google, then you need to take action as soon as possible.
Be polite, but contact your surgery or the Hospital and explain that, despite being respectful of the opinion and experience of the person you have currently, you feel that perhaps you are not best suited to their style of practicing medicine. Explain that whilst you understand moving people around the lists is not always easy but you have been ignoring symptoms such is your want to not seek an appointment.
Don’t be scared, people ask for second opinions all the time, so don’t be made to feel guilty for doing the same.
I found that a Midwife who looked after (although I say that loosely) my care when I was pregnant with Littlest was appalling. When I had Mini, I had a wonderful Midwife called Pat, I could phone her over the slightest niggle and she’d be happy to talk and sort me out.
This was not the case with Midwife 1 of 3 during my 28 week pregnancy.
For starters, she told me she would see me in the early days once a fortnight, but she would call me for an appointment. Then, she promptly forgot about me for over a month.
I started to get quite concerned at the month later stage and phoned the surgery myself, who booked me in.
I turned up, and the Midwife asked me if I was a new booking. I explained we’d met and I had my notes book she’d given me. She had no shame in admitting she had forgotten me, even asking if I was sure I’d had her.
Undaunted- after all, NHS Staff are under paid and overworked- I asked her to sort out an appointment with a Consultant as I had had complications with Mini. I also asked if she had my notes from that pregnancy, which she said they didn’t need.
Weeks went by, and no appointments arrived, so I called her direct. She had no idea once again who I was, denied ever having seen me, saying she had a list of current ladies and I wasn’t on it.
That day, I contacted the Midwife team and explained that I really had no faith in someone who couldn’t recall me, and they happily let me swap.
It took another go again before I got a nice lady, by which time of course I went into early labour and then had to start all over again before I got someone who I felt confidence in.
However, it shows no matter how many times I called to change, as I was polite and put my points against across, I was given someone new.
APPOINTMENTS- DON’T JUST WAIT FOR THEM TO APPEAR
Appointments systems are an utter farce at most hospitals now, not due to staff for the most part but due to Hospitals being huge and taking in patients from far and wide. As a result of this, it can be simple for a referral to go awry.
All hospitals have a certain length of time they suggest you will need to wait for an appointment to be sent out, so when your GP is making the referral, ask if they know the wait time.
Make a note on your phone diary or calendar when this referral was made, and who by, and then a reminder for this wait time.
If the time passes, contact the GP first.
Now, GP receptionists are notorious, and I have had run ins with a fair few miserable old cows in my time. I like to think that they do this on purpose, as then no one will ring and query their work.
Be polite, as is the golden rule, and just ask them to confirm when the referral was made. If this hasn’t been done, ask them to get the GP to contact you, and, when they do, explain that their Secretary has yet to send the referral. Ask them to send it as urgent as a result.
If it has been sent, then again, phone the Appointments line for the specific hospital and, if possible, department that you are due to see. They will ask your name and a few other details and should be able to let you know the status of your referral.
If, of course, they’ve never heard of you, phone the GP again, ask to speak to them by telephone and explain what the hospital has said.
The annoying thing is, if we could only make the damn referrals ourselves, it would be a simpler world. Unfortunately, simple is something the NHS Managers don’t quite believe in, so whilst it’s frustrating to you, its actually pretty frustrating to both the GP and Hospital Appointments staff and Consultant’s Secretaries who have to bear the brunt of angry folk on their telephone lines.
IF IT ALL GOES SERIOUSLY WRONG, GO TO THE TOP
In a Hospital, you have PALS, the Patient Advice Liaison Service, who are independent and who are there to give you help and advice if something, however big or small, goes wrong.
You can find them online or in the Hospital itself, and they can act on your behalf with Consultants if you have a query, or handle a complaint through a complaints procedure, if you feel that’s necessary too.
If that doesn’t work, you can also go direct to the Hospital Managers and make a complaint directly.
All complaints take time to process though so it may not provide a quick, or even a satisfactory conclusion. I waited nearly 18 months for a complaint I made regards the standard of treatment I received whilst pregnant with Littlest, and then his treatment beyond birth to receive a response, and to be honest, all they did was say “lessons had been learned”, “policy would be addressed” but ultimately concluded I was at fault and not the poor Consultants no sirree.
Yes, I could quite possibly have taken the Hospital to court, but be careful with litigation. It can prove costly, time consuming and may just add to stress and make your health worsen. It can also be easy to fall into the trap of No Win, No Fee companies who will rip you off whether you win or not, especially now that Legal Aid has been all but abolished in Medical Negligence litigation.
If you really have suffered a great deal of suffering down to shockingly poor healthcare which leaves you without work, or living a poor quality of life, then without a doubt the litigation route is right for you.
However, if it’s just a case of an appointment being at 2.15pm and you not being called until 3pm, its best just to grin and bear it.
If it’s a lack of respect that has you cross, take this up with the Ward Sister or Practice Manager- all patients, if they are showing respect and decency to staff deserve the same back, so don’t be spoken to rudely.
ALL IN ALL, WE’RE LUCKY TO HAVE THE NHS
Crisis of funding and staff or not, we are lucky to have folk like my sis in law in our country who, no matter whether it’s a cough or a coma, will care for us, for free, whatever time of day it is.
This gang of trained superheroes is seriously under appreciated, get all forms of bodily fluid and abuse every day, and still turns up to work no matter how many hours they worked the day (and night) before.
So, always try and be nice, appreciate them, and give them a word of thanks when things are going right.
If you do, you’ll find you get the same courtesy back.
Not all staff are arseholes, so don’t immediately assume they will be and act like an arse yourself.
And that way, the road to good health should be an easy, bump free experience.