Tag Archives: NHS

Blood Test Day

I cut out the middle man this week and went straight to the Phlebotomy Department at City Hospital. They looked at my veins, stuck a needle in the more promising one, drew the blood and sent me away.

It only took nineteen minutes from entering the car park to leaving.

I know this because it says so on my car parking receipt. If I’d been there fifteen minutes the parking would have been free.Instead, I paid £2 to park for four minutes.

So, am I happy because they took the sample first time? Am I glad I was seen free of charge, quickly and efficiently?   Am I pleased that I was able to get the test done and still get to work on time?

Of course not. I’m complaining that it all took four minutes too long and cost me £2.

That’s life.

 

 

Dentistry, Decay and a Difficult Day

First call of the day was dropping off Julia at work. The second was visiting the dentist, which proved to be the start of the decline.

The X-Rays showed a suspicious spot at the base of one of my teeth. It looks like decay. It also seems that I have strangely-shaped roots. After what happened with my wisdom tooth and its strangely-shaped root the words “strangely-shaped root” do not fill me with optimism.

To remove a wisdom tooth with a strangely-shaped root takes a team of medical students, power tools and just over an hour in the chair. It also involves a fair amount of pushing and pulling and the smell of burning.

There are three choices. One, go to a specialist, who may be able to save the tooth, but who would charge around £1,000 whether he saved it or not.  Alternatively, I could have it removed and have an implant fitted. That will be £1,500. Or I could just wait.

When the inevitable happens, and I am groaning in agony from a major abscess, I will have to go down to the dentist for emergency treatment and an extraction on the NHS. That will cost £56.30.

Tricky choice…

I then went to the pharmacy at TESCO, where they refused to supply me. One item is, it seems, difficult to get, so they suggested I try elsewhere. A second was out of stock, so they suggested trying elsewhere. They then handed me the prescription and suggested it would be simpler to (yes you guessed it) get it all elsewhere.

From there I went to the surgery for my blood test.

This didn’t take long as, for once, I bled extensively.  This would seem to indicate that the anti-coagulants are doing their job. I then continued to bleed, which was tricky.

From there I visited the pharmacy I used to use, who don’t find anything too difficult and who had all the necessary items in stock. Strange how a small shop can do things a multi-national can’t be bothered to do.

The rest of the day passed in a blur, looking for a birthday present for Julia. Yes, straight after the wedding anniversary and just before Christmas. It’s a tricky time of year.

 

A Low Blow from the NHS

The National Health Service is a fine thing, though far from perfect. When it started in 1948 it had a budget of £437 million (about £15 billion in 2017 spending power). In 2015-16 the budget was £116 billion.

The problem with the NHS, we are often told, is underfunding. Well tell that to Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo or Ethiopia – they all run countries on less than the NHS budget.

The NHS has so much money that it would rank 58th in the world in terms of GDP and could afford to buy an aircraft carrier (curremtly a very reasonable £6.2 billion, I’m told) to become a player in world politics.

If the NHS management were smart, and I confess my dealings with them have not persuaded me that this is the case, they could then threaten to leave the Union, like Scotland, and the Government would throw cash and jobs their way, just like it does with the Scots. That should solve the issue of funding.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, part of NHS funding in England is prescription charges. You pay £8.60 per prescription, so if you are on four types of pill you pay £34.40. If you want a pair of elastic stockings that’s £17.20, because each stocking counts as one prescription. I suppose amputees will see the sense in that one, but the rest of us feel the NHS is having a laugh. Sometimes the pharmacist will point out that they have the product on sale for far less than the prescription cost.

My annual prescriptions cost around £300. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the cost is £0. I will merely refer to this as an anomally, and pass over the whole painful subject.

There are several ways of paying less without moving house. One is to purchase a pre-payment certificate for £104 a year. I do this, as I feel that the £200 saving is better in my pocket than being squandered on wars and referendums.

Last night I went on-line to renew my certificate. I was part way through the process when a message came up on the screen –

Warning

The information submitted indicates that you are 59 years old. Please note that you will be eligible for free prescriptions from the age of 60.

Press continue to proceed with your application or cancel to stop.

 It’s a bit of a low blow, reminding me of my advancing age like that, but on the other hand I do like stuff for free.

 

 

The Final Countdown

It’s 9.40 am. I’ve already had my first hospital trip of the week and my time is now my own until 7.30 am on Thursday. At that point (fingers crossed) I should enter the final phase of the operation that has now lasted six weeks. Based on previous experience and the scanty information I was given at the beginning I was expecting it to be over in 3 days. Yes, what an idiot I was.

It is now three days until the operation and seven more before the catheter comes out. I am counting…

Although I’ve tended to concentrate on the urological side of things, as there are ready made elements of pathos and low comedy in that, I’m also been investigated for a range of other problems, all identified on my visit in December.

Take the Great Warfarin Farce as an example. I asked for the tests to be left until I’d finished with the operations but the doctor insisted. It involves visiting a hospital on the other side of town twice a week and eating rat poison. They may call it Warfarin and pretend not to know it has another use but I’ve fed bucketfuls of the stuff to rats over the years. It was first sold as a rat poison in 1948 and as a medicine in 1954. I leave you to draw your own conclusions

I went for my first appointment and I got off to a bad start with the nurse by enquiring why I had to give the same information every time I visited and why they couldn’t store it from visit to visit. She didn’t like that.  To be fair, she probably hears it a lot.

Things worsened when I told her I couldn’t make the next date for testing as I would be in hospital. Basically she called me a liar, and supported this by calling up a copy of my discharge letter to prove it said nothing about part two of the operation.

I suppose she thought I just wore the urinary catheter for fun.

“That,” I said, “is the discharge letter from the emergency admission last week. You need the one from 10th April.”

“Ah!,” she said, “I see.”

However, the operation didn’t happen and I had to stop the Warfarin five days before the next operation. That meant I was on Warfarin for five days.

I’ll cut to the chase – on my last test the nurse, a more practical and cheery individual than the first one – said: “I don’t even know why they started you on Warfarin until after the operation.”

So, I’m off Warfarin at the moment, though Julia has intimated she’s at a point where, if I don’t stop whining about the NHS, she’ll be happy to feed it to me, whatever the nurse may say.

The Good News

Thanks for the comments everyone, working on the basis that a trouble shared is a trouble halved I feel much better already.

I had a call from the hospital this morning. They have fixed me up with a new pre-operative assessment next week, my third (fourth if you count the extra one with the anaesthetist I had to have so they could tell me I was fat) in six weeks. I’m pretty sure this is due to a need to tick a box somewhere rather than the fact I need to be seen. After all, the proof of the pudding is not in the pre-op but in the fact that I didn’t die under anaesthetic during the first operation.

Regarding my weight, I’m fairly sure that could be left to a volunteer, as I don’t think you need five years at university to spot that I’ve let myself go a bit. I may suggest this efficiency measure to them, as doctors clearly have better things to do.

They have also fixed me up with a new operation date in two weeks, though I’m not sure how much faith to put in this. Fourteen days isn’t a massive delay, I suppose, though if I give any of the staff involved in the delay the chance to wear a urinary catheter for fourteen days I don’t suppose anyone will volunteer.

I was lucky they didn’t cancel me the day before the operation. By cancelling on the day for non-clinical reasons they are committed to giving me a new date within 28 days. If they had cancelled the day before there is no such obligation. In the last quarter of 2016 there were 21,249 cancelled operations, which is 233 a day.

There are various reasons for cancellation including lack of beds, lack of staff, running out of time, equipment breakdown and administrative error. Looking at it that way, 233 isn’t a lot of cancellations, though last week the man on my ward who was cancelled twice in two days may have had a different view.

I hope the new appointment is right because it’s for 7.30, which means there is no delay and though I miss breakfast I will be on the ward for lunch.

Institutionalised? Me?

The picture has nothing to do with the text, I just wanted to add something cheery to the post. It’s from the Cloud Bar at Anderby Creek

Fish, Chips and Disappointment

Well, I’m back home already. No overnight stay, no pain, no blood.

On the downside, there was no operation.

I rose at 6.00 and, like Paddington Bear, breakfasted on marmalade sandwiches. Five and a half hours later I was washed, packed and provisioned. I was also starving and slightly nervous, as medical staff kept drifting through, asking to see my appointment letter. In the end one of them, having drawn the short straw, sidled up and asked me to step through, obviously trying to separate me from the herd.

“I’m sorry, but you’re not on our list.” she said, and like a modern nightclub the NHS operates on the policy of “if you aren’t on the list, you aren’t coming in”.

So, despite having a letter telling me when to report, despite having rung to confirm and despite having had my pre-op done while I was on the ward last week, I was sent home.

That’s the summary anyway. In real life it took longer, with more muttered excuses and a lot of waiting.

I’m now waiting for a new date.

On the positive side, this gave us the time to enjoy the sunshine and go for haddock and chips at The Big Fish  and Julia allowed me to have syrup sponge and custard to get over my disappointment.

I’m now engaging in one of my favourite activities – mentally composing a letter of complaint about my cancelled appointment. I always seem so much more intelligent at this point – the draft always seems so much better than the final written version.

I’m currently debating whether I should offer to fit catheters to the staff concerned as this might concentrate their minds on the delay in removing mine.