Yesterday was the appointment I had been waiting for. The appointment I eventually chased up and chased up and chased up to get – with the help of PALs.
As it was in a hospital in a town further away than my usual hospital, I set off from home (having taken the morning off work) at 7.45, as coming through town can always get very busy at that time in the morning and as the hospital’s building is new and I have never been there before I wanted to arrive with enough time not only to get through traffic but also to navigate my way round the hospital.
The new parking system is better than others in that you pay on exit, but just as extortionate as the others. I paid £3.40 to be there from 8.25 to 10.05.
The new building stands and looks shiny and new, a stark contrast to the old hospital that is still on the grounds, although they are letting it crumble now. It looks very old and tired.
Once in the hospital I showed my letter to the woman on the main reception and she confidently directed me to the correct clinic and floor. This is where the confusion started. Once there, I walked in to find that not only was I sharing space with a walk in clinic for quick tests (for what I cannot remember) but also with an antenatal clinic. And of course I was there for endocrinology. Everything seemed thrown together haphazardly where there was space. The antenatal receptionist told me she didn’t reckon my doctor worked there and thought he was based on the opposite side of the hospital. She directed me to the outpatients reception along the corridor but of course once I reached it there was nobody there to assist.
I waited for 5 minutes and then the original woman came back and said he was based in the clinic I thought he was and I should return. So I did. I handed her my letter and waited.
I bonded with another jaded patient of the doctor while we were waiting. My appointment was at 9. Theirs, 8.45.
We kept being informed by the antenatal receptionist that out receptionist wasn’t there yet, so no clinic list existed as yet. She in particular seemed displeased by this, and she was quite short with us for something that was most definitely not our fault.
Eventually a nurse showed up and took first the other patient and then myself in to her little room to have our weight checked and my blood pressure. My weight is now 65.9kg, last time it was 62kg. Upon leaving her tiny space, she told me I would have to wait as there was one patient ahead of me and (and this is the important thing) the doctor himself had not arrived yet.
His first appointment started at 8.45. He did not arrive until 9.10 – 10 minutes late for my appointment, and 25 minutes late for theirs. He walked past us with a coffee in his hand and did not apologise at that point or at any other for us having to wait.
I was the second patient of the clinic. Only the second, and my appointment started 45 minutes late.
And then he discharged me. My thyroid levels are now very much stable and he said I could be comfortably referred back to the GP. In the future, should I need it, I can be referred back to him but for now I can see the GP.
I have never had my thyroid monitored by the GP before other than the occasional blood test so I don’t know how we would manage this – would they send me reminder letters or would I need to coordinate the appointments. He said I would need to.
I said I arranged this one using the help of PALs after my appointment had been cancelled. He said he had heard about that.
He said it wasn’t unheard of for people to have 4 cancelled appointments in a row and so my measly two aren’t as bad. And as my thyroid is stable it doesn’t matter.
I told him that it does matter. I should not have to organise my own appointments and more importantly whether my thyroid is stable or not I should not be left in the position where I have to get involved. Because for one thing, in the 6 months I have not seen him it could all have changed, and for another, if they can cancel my appointments without reorganising them are they doing that for cancer patients? For terminally ill people?
According to him, if you want to get things done in the NHS you have to shout for it. He laughed at this as if it were funny but I don’t think it is. I should not have to make my voice heard just to get results. And what about those people who can’t? Or don’t know how to?
According to him, the noisy patients get treatment and the quiet ones miss out and that is ok.
I was furious when I left the hospital. Furious with him for being late, for making me wait, for discharging me, but most of all having such a skewed idea of how the NHS should work.
Once I have my referral letter through I shall make an appointment with my GP to discuss a care plan. Being discharged is scary. I know I am stable and this is a good thing but I have been under the care of an endocrinologist in various hospitals for over 8 years now. And suddenly not having an expert ‘looking after me’ is just a bit of an odd feeling. I shall get over it though!