NHS Roulette

Do you remember me saying “At that point we will start the game of NHS Roulette to see what I actually get. ” in the last post?

Did you think at the time that I was being unduly  pessimistic, or unfair on the saints who run the NHS?

Well, after picking up my phone from the shop I went to the pharmacy, queued, got to the counter, asked for my prescription and was given a bag that didn’t look like the one I was expecting.

It seems that the stuff I ordered four weeks ago hasn’t come, but I did have a bag of things I hadn’t ordered. I would have ordered them today, as they were due. Unfortunately there was one item missing from that lot too – the important one. So all in all, NHS scores zero for efficiency, yet again. It’s a wonder they don’t actually kill more people with the number of things they get wrong. I used to take the view that they did dozens of things right for every on they got wrong but at the moment it’s running about 50;50, which isn’t great odds when you are gambling with your health.

It’s possibly sorted now, after a phone call, but you can never be too sure about these things. I await the next cock-up with bated breath.

After that, I booked a vaccination appointment. That was an experience. The web address didn’t work so I used the phone number. I was number 50 in the queue and they were answering two a minute, according to the running commentary. Sometimes my hopes rose when they answered four in a minute, sometimes they fell as the number decreased by one, or even zero. Eventually, I got through, and found out why they were so slow. They needed my NHS number, and, of course, it’s not something you either memorise or keep to hand, unless the people asking you for ti have thought to tell you in the text they sent. They, of course, didn’t think of that.

Then, after ascertaining which was my nearest test centre, they told me there were no appointments there and they were waiting for more to be released, which wouldn’t be released until tomorrow. That was interesting, because until then I thought that each day had the same times as all other days – silly me. They asked if I’d like to ring back tomorrow.

Let’s see. Would I like to ring back tomorrow and spend another 25 minutes hanging on – it’s an ordinary number, not a free one, and I am of an age where 25 minutes is a significant amount of time. I settled for an appointment that is further away. Strangely, they didn’t offer me on at City Hospital, which I can see as I type. They are doing them there because one of the neighbours is going there for hers tomorrow.

It will take 30-40 minutes for them to assess me before vaccination, then I have a 15 minute wait afterwards. half an hour before the vaccination? NO wonder it’s taking so long to give them all.

Pictures are random sky shots – one being a rainbow over the Ecocentre and the other being crepuscular rays over the lake at Rufford park. That is knowledge I have gained by reading Derrick’s blog.

Crepuscular rays at Rufford Park

Crepuscular rays at Rufford Park

23 thoughts on “NHS Roulette

  1. alphaandomega21

    Dear All
    I have been scanning the interesting posts on this blog this morning. I do like the pictures as well as the text.

    As regards the NHS it might be useful if I relate my experiences. Over the years I have had limited contact not being keen to see doctors if I can help it. However, things were probably better in my younger years.

    I say probably as I am not entirely convinced about that but one can’t try out all the hospitals as it were for size and comfort etc – it is not possible/practical to do a ‘Goldilocks and the three bears’ exercise each time you need help!(unless you could advise otherwise).

    When I was 18 I had wisdom teeth extracted at Kings Hospital, Denmark Hill, London. It was quite an operation as I had 2 additional teeth buried in my upper palate which the dentist (private) recommended be removed for some reason.

    After the op I was recuperating in a mixed male recovery ward. I was not allowed to have any fluid or food for 24 hours as my mouth was very sore. I do not recall if I was on a drip, but I believe not. So I was not being hydrated. I was not offered a damp cloth to my lips which would have helped. 24 hours without fluid is not much fun, especially when you have lost blood in the operation.

    When my mouth was better I was allowed food. I saw a nutritionist and I explained about my mouth. She might as well not have bothered as I was served the routine anyway it seemed with pie with a very hard crust which my sore mouth could not cope with.

    I had a hernia operation in 2007 at St Richards Hospital, Chichester, Sussex. This seemed to go fine (general anaesthetic), but I must have been given a double dose of anaesthetic in my leg as I could not stand on this leg at all after I came round. It was only midnight at home (they discharged me without keeping me in for monitoring) that my leg ‘came round’.

    I have had immunotherapy treatment for alleged cancer more recently. The hospital in Brighton I went to seemed reasonably well organised even when lockdown occurred.

    However, at the start of one session I was told by a nurse they were expecting me to come into the hospital for a face-to-face with the oncologist, despite the fact I had a letter indicating that she would call me (they have been doing phone calls because of supposed fears of contracting the virus).

    I was told the oncologist would see me at the end of my session (1.5hrs). The next thing I knew was she appeared (masked, so I had to ask ‘is that you’ as it were) and I saw her.

    She saw me again in the middle of the treatment and asked if it was ok to speak to my wife and I said yes, and gave her my wife’s mobile (she was not allowed in to treatment room due to supposed risks of infection from virus and was elsewhere in Brighton).

    At the end of the session I was approached by a nurse who seemed to be talking to me as though I was a child. Had I spoken to my wife? I said the oncologist said she would. The nurse said the oncologist wanted to see us both so as I could not get a signal on my phone she rang my wife and got her to come down to the hospital.

    I was taken down to the waiting area outside the oncologist’s office. As the nurse was about to leave the oncologist came out of her office and said ‘Hello what are you doing here’ or words to that effect. She had spoken to my wife and was not expecting to see us.

    I could go on (and on!), but you will see from the above that the NHS is pretty incompetent/careless in various aspects. It sound from the comments on this post that it is a postcode lottery as to what standards you might expect.

    If this was in the private sector we would not consider this acceptable. Yet according to information on an envelope I had from the NHS it costs £160 per missed appointment. I don’t know if this covers all types of appointments but that would be £2,560 per 8 hr day on assumption of half hour per average appointment. Current wisdom teeth extraction costs would be around that in Chichester’s Nuffield Health Hospital.

    I consider the NHS is not good value for money. Much of the problem is in administration I believe, but that is only part of the problem.

    Kind regards
    Baldmichael Theresoluteprotector’sson

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      I’m glad it’s not just me. everything you say is familiar in one way or another. Many of the faults of the NHS are simply faults of a big organisation, but they are dealing with important aspects of people’s lives.

      There do seem to be a lot of administrators these days, and a lot of useless paperwork.

      The vaccination process is a good example. My wife had three forms to fill out – I had no form filling – just a few questions. I was told to take proof and paperwork with me but nobody asked for it. We both had our dates for second vaccinations set at the time – my text came in while I was still talking to the appointment hotline.. Friends and family in other counties have been waiting ages for their second date.

      There seems to be no consistency.

      I hope everything is going well for you now.Despite all our complaints they do seem to get it right more often than not.


  2. Orvillewrong

    My vaccination experience was even stranger, I received a letter from the NHS informing me that my turn had arrived. I went on the NHS site and was duly informed that my nearest centre was at Didsbury in Manchester, which is great when you consider I live in Arnold. Eventually I was transferred to the local website, I duly booked my appointment only to have red flashing lights on my computer informing me that I was not old enough. I sent them a very irate Email stating that I am 78yrs old with a heart condition and diabetes and I was in no way trying to jump the queue. This was on a Friday on the following Wednesday I received an apology and another request to make my appointment. This time there were no problems.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      I live 400 yards from City Hospital – one of my neighbours was vaccinated there this morning. It wasn’t offered to me, and there were no appointments on The Forest. I was offered Gamston or Carlton. far better than Manchester! They still haven’t got things right.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      Yes, that is a bright side. Very different from the experiences of various family members living in other countries. Though when you are paying directly I think you get a better service.

  3. Clare Pooley

    I’ve had my first vaccination and I was telephoned by my surgery and not only given an appointment for the next day but also my second appointment in April! I went to Reydon near Southwold. Richard was sent a text message and given the choice of one of the following three days at Reydon on which to get his vaccination; he chose a date and it went ahead with no problem. He will hear sometime later when his next appointment will be. Friends have received letters asking them to phone to make an appointment. These people have been given appointments in two weeks time and at centres thirty or more miles away – Attleborough, Ipswich, Norwich, Great Yarmouth etc. My mother was phoned by her surgery and told that as the centre where she was to attend was too far away for her to travel to she would receive a visit from a mobile team in the next couple of days. This actually happened and she was vaccinated in the comfort of her own home. I am astounded at the different methods of contact they are using. Both Richard and I got letters after we had had the first vaccine asking us to make appointments for it, just as Julia has done. I suppose this is just to make sure no-one slips through the net and is left out – or am I being generous and optimistic?!

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      You are being generous and optimistic. My second appointment was made as I confirmed the first – the text buzzing in my ear as I wass till speaking about my first one. The experience of Julia’s workmate was different to Julia’s – less paperwork, fewer questions then the injection done by a vet! My ister, in Peterborough, has friends who have been offered vaccinations up to 60 miles away., with couples being offered wildly different appointments.

  4. tootlepedal

    Life is complicated for you. I have never been given the wrong medicine and I didn’t have to book an appointment. They invited me and they didn’t need any number when I got there. It’s curious. Perhaps you live in the wrong country.

  5. jodierichelle

    Yikes – that mix up at the pharmacy could be dangerous for someone who was infirm. People need things when they need them, and if you give them the wrong thing, it could be very confusing.

    RE: The vaccination – that’s a trouble all over. It’s a roulette wheel over here. And most appointments are scheduled over the internet. The people I know who need the vaccine the most are not the best at the internet. We’re trying to help them, but it is a complicated system.

    anyway – lovely pictures!


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