Now, first up, I want to say I have nothing against the majority of NHS staff who work hard and treat patients with the courtesy.
Sadly, the one’s who do show courtesy seem to be a dying breed.
Back in February, I went to my local Opticians, and, as is the norm, the first thing the Optometrist asked was whether I’d had any issues with my eyes.
I had, to be fair. I just put it down to another offshoot of my migraines, which affect my vision anyway and always have. I can sometimes be doing something as mundane as making a cuppa, and my eyes will go double or my vision will slide like a telly that is on the blink. I am bad though, if I can avoid a trip to the GP, I will as I have had such a bad experience with them time and again that I just try and sort myself out these days to avoid being spoken to like an idiot and ending up upset again.
She was actually quite concerned by this, and, on making me look up and down, noticed my vision go double when I go from looking up to looking ahead.
She quite worried me really, which I sure wasn’t her intention, as she said she wanted me to go to A&E the next time I had the double vision (I haven’t, as it’s not painful and it rights itself in around a minute anyway. That and the “avoid the NHS like the plague” thing).
She asked me to take a letter to my GP, marked Urgent, asking for a referral onwards. She couldn’t emphasise enough that I needed to take this to the GP, and I needed to chase it up. She said I shouldn’t have to wait longer than a month for an appointment.
I was a little scared. As I say, I’m sure she didn’t intend to leave me worried, but you only get one set of eyes and once they’re buggered you’re buggered. So I handed the letter in the next day.
Then I waited.
In March, I got a letter from the next place the GP had sent it onto, saying they felt that as the Optician was so concerned, I should go straight to the Hospital Optometry department instead, as they could order MRI scans and such like that they didn’t have. They had already sent this on to them with the original letter, and I should hear back soon.
Fair enough, I thought, at least this is being taken seriously, and a slight delay won’t hurt if it means not wasting time going to people who then have to send me to the local hospital anyway.
By June though, what with moving and having other stuff going on, I’d forgotten about it until I found the letter and thought “Oh, wonder why I’ve heard nothing”? So I phoned the people who sent my referral onwards to ask them had they actually sent it.
The lady there was lovely, and she had a record of what department it was sent to, when it was sent, and how it was sent. She gave me the telephone number of the hospital at Royal Berks to speak to, and with all the info written down, I phoned them.
Well, this is where the usual “arsehole attitude” of NHS hospital staff reared it ugly unwarranted head. I was really polite, just explaining that I was just calling to inquire when I may hear something, as it was sent on March 19th, and marked as Urgent by both the Specsavers Optician and the people my GP had originally sent me onto to.
The guy I spoke to was incredibly rude, he said they’d never heard of me, asked me who had sent me, wanted her name and experience level (which of course I didn’t know) then denied anything had been sent, although he refused to look on the system.
He then hung up.
I contacted the other people again who had sent me to them asking if they couldn’t just see me, after how I’d been treated already, and sadly the best they could do was send it again.
I have since contacted the hospital twice more to chase it, to be told it’s “in the system” or they are “re-inquiring with the other people who didn’t want to see me due to having a lack of equipment.
Today, I finally got a letter back.
Considering this referral was first made, in February, and marked Urgent, and then sent again at least twice, again marked Urgent by two different experts, when do you think I have an appointment for?
You’d think for a few weeks right? Especially after all the messing around I’ve had.
10 MONTHS since the “Urgent” referral was made.
Of course, I felt this must be incorrect. Marked as urgent, the optician at Specsavers said I shouldn’t need to wait more than a month.
So, I phoned and explained calmly.
It seems it doesn’t matter how you speak to Hospital Secretaries, they are universally rude to patients for daring call in and disturbing them from, well, god knows what as manning the phone is clearly in their job description.
She looked me up and said the Consultant had marked me as non-urgent and to see a Triage Nurse.
Despite TWO other experts- one of whom has actually examined me and seen the issue happen- saying they felt it was urgent, this person who has never seen me has read these referral letters and ignored them, deciding I am full of shit, the Specsavers woman is full of shit, and I am clearly wasting their time.
I challenged this to the woman I spoke to, and she said- her exact words people- ” He has decided, and he doesn’t care what Specsavers said, or a Doctor has said, it’s up to him and if he decides you are non-urgent you will wait”.
I was unaware hospital Consultants at Royal Berks could see patients issues and sum them via, I imagine, crystal ball? It’s not like I go to my GP or hospital every five minutes, I barely go when I need to let alone when I don’t, so it’s not like I’m a bloody hyperchondriac they’re sick of seeing.
She refused to ask him to treat it as urgent, and she refused to give me any other, nearer, appointment.
It is hardly a surprise, the Hospital is known for being utterly shite, they treated- if you can call it that- Littlest in the summer and have now caused him more issues than they solved, causing him leg pain when he walks via a Lumbar Puncture I found out from several sources was completely unnecessary and seldom used of at all to diagnose what they were only “ruling out”. They gave him food he is allergic to, forgot to tell us he was quarantined then had a go at me for taking him to get some water, and left us for four hours in a dirty room with no air conditioning and dirty sheets. To make matters worse, as I dared ask after 4 hours where his results were after being told they’d take no more than an hour, I was abused by a Nurse in front of other parent’s and then, and I kid you not people, she slammed a door hard into my wrist- narrowly avoiding my face as I put my arm up to stop it slamming into me.
I don’t know what to do next. I told her that, if he was going to overrule two others who were concerned and treat me like a liar and timewaster, I won’t bother, there is little point. I’ve seen Consultants with Littlest before who clearly saw us to shut me up and who had no intention in actually treating him and we got precisely nowhere but upset all round.
I’m sorry, but I find it increasingly hard to back an NHS who treats us Patients like scum, who takes their anger and disillusionment with Government cuts out on the wrong people.
No one chooses to go to a hospital, it’s not somewhere you think to yourself would be fun for a daytrip, so treating us like a chore is not helpful at time when a patient is probably worried, scared and wishing they could be anywhere other than the waiting room.
It also reinforces my “why do I bother, I’ll stay as I am until I genuinely collapse and have to go to hospital” feeling.
I won’t bother now. I really wont. I told her to cancel it. I’m not seeing someone who feels they can diagnose me without even seeing me, I have no faith in people like that. I will now have to go back to my GP, if I can get an appointment, or can be bothered, and ask them to send me elsewhere.
The first thing I would do if I won the lottery wouldn’t be buying a house, a car or a holiday. It would be going Private, as it seems that is the only way to actually get anything dealt with now- you really do get what you pay for it seems, and the NHS couldn’t make that more obvious.
I sometimes wonder if, because in the past I have registered complaints when Littlest’s care has been atrocious, I am now blacklisted by the NHS and that is why I continuously just get treated as a nuisance and shown no respect.If I was in the NHS, that would make me want to try again and show they can treat all patients with a good level of care and respect.
I won’t be going to Royal Berks if you paid me.
*I am giving them right to reply here, via tweeting this link, so feel free to write your horror stories in the comments.*