NHS in Meltdown: 31 Week Waiting List To See a Cardiologist 130

I am afraid this is a personal medical story, but I think it makes a very damning point about the state of the NHS. There is no sensible way to tell it without giving an uncomfortable (I suspect for both of us) level of medical detail about myself.

I had two collapses very early in the New Year, one with loss of consciousness of over ten minutes. On the second occasion we called 999, and the response was superb – a paramedic in less than five minutes and and ambulance in less than ten.

In A & E, I had an ECG and x-ray and was told there was an indication of minor heart failure. I then collapsed again and had entered major atrial fibrillation. I was rushed up to the critical conditions unit, where the condition responded to injections. I was kept in for the next six days. The diagnosis was paroxysmic atrial fibrillation. I was discharged on a dose of 1.25mg of Bisoprolol a day, 2 x 50mg of Flecanide and 2 x 150 mg of Pradaxa. The bisoprolol, even at that low dose, puts me into bradycardia at about 50 beats per minute, but the fibrillation immediately returns without it – that was the conclusion of the six days admission.

All these drugs were new to me.

I was slightly concerned that in six days in hospital, my total face time with a cardiologist was about three minutes – one sighting of two minutes and two of about thirty seconds. In virtually none of that three minutes did the cardiologist address me, but rather the junior doctors and nurses. There was no echocardiogram done.

On discharge the cardilogist told his team that he needed to see me again in six weeks to assess my progress on the medicines. I was discharged on 10 January and therefore was surprised to receive an appointment for 7 May. I telephoned to query this, and the cardiologist’s secretary told me that she knew six weeks was requested, but that 7 May was the first available appointment. I asked if she realised that was 17 weeks not 6, and she replied that was within the allotted NHS target time.

Unfortunately I have been feeling constantly ill since starting on these medicines. Dizzy, faint and nauseous, with severe palpitations. I get very tired very quickly, and fall asleep instantly on putting my head down at any time of day or night.

On discharge from hospital the consultant also ordered a 24 hour ECG (3 week waiting list) and contrast echocardioram (8 week waiting list). Having now had these investigations, I have no idea what the results were and apparently will not be told until I see the cardiologist.

I have twice been to see the G.P. to explain how ill I am feeling. The G.P. said he would write to the cardiologist to see if the 7 May appointment could be brought forward.

Then yesterday I received a letter giving a change of cardiologist appointment – to 17 July! That is a 32 week wating list. It is exactly 26 weeks – half a year – after the date at which the cardiologist said I should be seen again!

In the meantime, I have no idea whether I feel so ill because of the drugs, or because of progressive heart failure. I have no idea what were the results of my tests. I have no idea of the prognosis. I have no idea as to the cause of the paroxysmal atrial fibrillation in the first place.

I have to say that my experience of the NHS in London was entirely different to this. When I had heart problems in 2004, all apponitments and tests and an eventual procedure were carried out extremely promptly – within days – and I at no stage felt left in the dark.

Is this an extreme example of a postcode lottery, or has the NHS declined so drastically in the last few years (or both)? My strong suspicion is that NHS resources are more freely available in more affluent areas, and that being treated out of the QEQM hospital in Margate is probably as bad as the NHS gets (I know those outside S.E. England may find this hard to believe, but Margate is a centre of serious poverty and social deprivation).

Please print this article out and keep it. In the event my heart packs in before I see that cardiologist, please douse it in petrol and stack it against the door of No. 10.

130 thoughts on “NHS in Meltdown: 31 Week Waiting List To See a Cardiologist

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  • Mary - for Truth and Justice

    Antibiotics resistance ‘as big a risk as terrorism’ – medical chief


    I have just heard Dr Davies say, that to incentivize the drug companies to produce new antibiotics, we should use more public private partnerships!! She was speaking to Jon Kay on BBC News. Shilling for GSK and the like in other words.

    I was waiting for her to compare the 5000 UK deaths attributed to non resistance to microbial infections as akin to the death toll of 9/11. Note the use of the terrrrrrism word being brought into the discusssions.

  • resident dissident

    Get well soon Craig – even though I disagree with much of your politics some of us are able to separate the personal from the political. Best wishes to your wife as well, who I guess may find this even more scary than you. BTW I would be giving your GP a lot of encouragement to get things moving – given that he/she is more likely to know how to play the system than yourself.

  • nevermind

    Today we hear of Lib dem/Con cllr.s moon lighting for cash and working against the advise of fellow councillors elsewhere. The last nail in the planning coffin.
    Also today, MP George Freeman is using fatal accidents to placate voters in the forthcoming county council elections.Will we hear of more sobs? like suspension of the fuel escalator, for some month.

    Fact is here in Norfolk they have spent their money and nothing is left for the major improvements. Planning is in a quandary and the Tory’s had three years to evoke change, so why now crow about roads and urgent improvements, if not to sidle up to drivers.

    Good to hear so many care about you and the NHS, but, on reflection, would it be wiser to seek treatment abroad when one is critical of the NHS, Gulnara, and many other issues that matter?

  • nevermind

    BTW. Has the media forgotten about Adam Werritty?

    Is their recollection of the affairs surrounding his special access to all areas not instantly triggered by the mentioning of Dr. Liam Fox’s latest haranguing missive’s, ready to shine at spring conference.

    Indeed every time Liam Fox says something the MSM deems important, is it not worth challenging him on the whereabouts of his erstwhile sidekick?

    I mean every time George Galloway is in some public frame, they manage to remember his ‘indefatigable approach’ to Saddam, how do they do this. Remember Galloway’s past noises but fail to notice the absence and disappearance of Adam Werritty, a man who managed to have meetings at the MOD without any internal minutes, who had access to PPS’s, were no mortals tread?

    So where is Adam Werritty? will he be at Con. Conference? maybe as/with a new face?

    Or is Adam Werritty dead?

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    “Or is Adam Werritty dead?”

    Perhaps a case of “beam me up, Scotty” ?

  • nevermind

    “The massacre of hundreds of protesters at the hands of British troops in 1919, he wrote, was “a deeply shameful event in British history”. “In remembering,” said the prime minister, “we must ensure that the United Kingdom stands up for the right to peaceful protest anywhere in the world.”

    wrote hypocrite David Cameron during his latest Indian friendship/ arms visit.

    meanwhile the assaults and injuries to democratic protesters and students, the poo-licy of kettling and extreme force, the use of rubber bullets always a consideration, will continue.

    To the consternation of lawyers this minority political party coalition now wants to withdraw from the EU Human rights act, curtailing their legal scope and despite the input British lawyers had in drafting this law.

    Sorry for referring to this rag.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Brian Fujisan :

    “You should VERY careful with whom you insult”

    I quite agree. And also with whom you cross swords on this blog.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Nevermind (11h32)

    “..this minority political party coalition…”

    Sloppy drafting once again from Never-a-mind.

    There is a coalition because each of the two constituent political parties is, by itself, a minority party in terms of parliamentary seats and in terms of the popular vote. By combining into a coalition, they become a majority in the above terms.

    So these five words cannot be used together and still make sense.


    La vita è bella, life is good! (Habbabkuk for drafting that makes sense)

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    It would have been clearer and made better sense if you had said “this coalition of minority parties”; I trust you agree?

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    Or better still : “this coalition of minority political parties”.


  • JJ

    Hi, I am really sorry to hear about your experiences with the NHS. I do hope you will get some help and proper treatment soon.
    It was interesting to read that you had much better experience in London in 2004. So did I!
    At present however things are just as bad. I have been passing blood in my urine for three and half months now and I have been in a lot of pain. So far my GP refuses to send me to see a consultant at all. I am being given painkillers and told to go away. It is pretty scary, especially since I lost many family members to cancer. I have seen 3 different GPs on four occasions (all at the same surgery)and they keep telling me that there is no funding to send me and that I will have to wait longer before I can get my referral. So much for being in London.

  • Mary - for Truth and Justice

    BBC Breaking News is just like one of those coin in the slot machines. Put in your token and up comes a new message. Ref my Liam (Want to be Prime Minister) Fox post earlier.

    LATEST:No 10 rejects calls by Liam Fox, MP for the government to freeze public spending for five years

  • nevermind

    Although I feel like responding to your threats at Brian, your need of correctness and pedantry has to be satisfied before I consider rearranging your facial expressions.

    It is, off course, not a coalition, because that would mean having protracted talks for some 5 to 6 weeks, I know you with your extensive foreign travel experience,know this as well, habkeincock.

    What we are faced with is the result of speed dating between newbies who never been in Government, a poor excuse, mocking other far more appropriate and fair political systems that are proportional and more in tune with voters.

    To call this a coalition is a compliment.

  • nevermind

    JJ, go and check into hospital, pronto, especially if your passing of blood comes with stinging pains.

    This happened to a friend and within two weeks he had an exploratory op, was found to have bladder cancer and had his bladder taken out some five weeks later.

    Take the initiative and make sure that your (ignorant) doctor gets to know about every diagnosis that is taken, for learning purposes.

    There is a national requirement to stifle the development of cancer by speeding up patients treatment. It works well in Norfolk but is very much determined by the availability of hospitals with specialist oncology expertise.

  • Mary - for Truth and Justice

    Don’t feed the trolls. It only allows them to spread more of the disinformation and cause disruption.

    Their silly and venomous exchange above in the Polish language reads and just for the record:-

    CE very well (“playing” with Mary “viper”), and you? I congratulate for the Polish lady!

    Back to the fray tomorrow, eh. Good night!



    Very good, thanks Habba

  • lwtc247

    Craig. May I suggest you do some ‘health tourism’ around the EU or even consider doing it abroad. Yes, you will have to pay for it abroad, but you should get rapid attention. Sorry to hear you are still not fully recovered. I make doah for you.

  • lwtc247

    JJ. A suggestion. With the permission of a friend who lives in a different ‘medical jurisdiction’ (or whatever medical ‘zones’ are called), go to a GP and register saying you’ve just moved in. That way you can hopefully get the medical attention you need.

  • lwtc247

    Mike Cobley, 10 Mar, 2013 – 12:05 pm
    I like your demonstration that the destruction of the NHS is tri-partisan (well, different shades of Thatcherism)

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    Another splendid comment from Never-a-mind at (12h14). Speaking of the coalition, he opines as follows :

    “It is, off course, not a coalition, because that would mean having protracted talks for some 5 to 6 weeks”

    So we have learnt something new from the Master of Politics, ie, the importance of the time factor.

    If a coalition takes a long time to put together, it’s a coalition.

    If, on the other hand, it’s put together speedily, it’s not.



    La vita è bella, life is good!

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Mary at 14h17 :

    I do believe you forgot to supply a translation of the last line of my post.

    To remind you, this read as follows : “Zycie jest piekna!”

    Do you think you could bring yourself to translate this as well? 🙂

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    Two offers (?) of fisticuffs from Never-a-mind directed at me on this thread.

    Never-a-mind, were you, in your younger days, an amateur boxer – perhaps an amateur boxer who got knocked out once too often,which would explain the seemingly scrambled nature of your grey matter?


    La vita è bella;, life is good! (ban dangerous sports)

  • Ex Pat


    On being a Big Girl’s Blouse – It’s, ER, normal, even expected. Really!

    Further –

    “Q. “Can’t I just wait for a heart problem and then start the cure (diet)?” A. “For a third of those under 65, the first symptom of heart disease is death.” – Sudden Cardiac Death.

    “For a quarter of those over 65, the first symptom of heart disease is death.” Oops indeed.

    “100% of those getting a coronary bypass suffer brain damage – from the movement of plaque in the arteries into the brain, by the removal of clamps placed on arteries during the procedure. In some cases the cognitive impairment _appears_ to wear off, but _all_ do have underlying damage to their brains, ‘Pumphead’.

    “2% or 3% die on the table during a bypass operation. 5% have heart attacks. 13% have ‘major complications’. 1% die on the table during an angiogram.


    Q. Why do so many of us follow Dr. E’s diet for religious reasons? A. Because we’re (very) devout cowards!

    “BUT you are not alone. You have Drs. Ornish, McDougall and Esselstyn and (biochemical) Dr. T. Colin Campbell. As for an actual live family practitioner or a cardiologist, you may get lucky, but unfortunately I wouldn’t count on it. When you have a new diagnosis of heart disease and you are petrified, or ‘they’ are shoving a coat hanger up your leg, is that tough? Oh Yeah ;-).”

    – A biased review of ‘Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease’ by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn – Good? It’s not good, it’s Wonderful! – Amazon –



    “Almost all of those who came to me, who had been told there was little hope, today – twenty years later – are alive, their arterial diseases receded. They stand as living proof of what is possible for you and anyone else who chooses to do what is necessary to become heart attack-proof.”

    “I don’t understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic, while it is medically conservative to cut people open.” – Dean Ornish.

    “Well said!” – Caldwell Esselstyn

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    A threat from one anonymous commentator to another is wishful thinking for a masochist. It’s also very child-like to seek negative attention, as an alternative to no attention at all.

  • Ex Pat

    THE US

    Unnecessary drugs, tests and procedures in the US seem to be quite dangerous – killing 780,000 a year, out of 3m deaths per annum – over 25% of all deaths in one report.? Bet the UK is not that bad! –


    They’re not. WHO rating of health care systems. NHS #18. US – #37 –



    As dangerous as being unmolested by the medical establishment? Does that depend on how you rate their cured to killed ratio. 10:1? 1:1? 1:10!?

    “Be careful of what you wish for?”


    Read a medical doctor – a TB patient himself – say that it wasn’t until he decided that he had to work to get better that he began to improve. To just passively lie there – in the thirties and receive treatment or medicine wasn’t going to do it and he saw that in those around him, in those who lived and those who died.

    In a peculiar way, he said, he had to actively work at getting better, even if he was lying flat on his back. In his case he independently discovered ‘Active Imagination’ – his subconscious. C.G. Jung’s discovery. Which forty years later he thought had been a powerful aid in his recovery.

    Enthusiasm for the Esselstyn diet is because it puts the patient back in control. It empowers the patient. A powerful feeling. A healthy approach. Pun intended. “The locus of control is restored to the patient” – very important said the good doctor.

    As you said, the NHS did sterling work for you when the chips were down. While one is ambulatory perhaps the patient can – or even should – take a certain amount of control. Certainly in a system as dysfunctional as the US’s. Perhaps also even with a much better system – the NHS – that does have bottlenecks?

    Perhaps there are measures patients can take a) about appointments with doctors and specialists, b) reading and learning, c) even to treatment – more so if diet is included as treatment? Perhaps if one is able, taking such control can be healthy and may be part of a cure?

    ‘Course not everyone wants to. Not everyone is equipped to. Not everyone has the time or inclination to. What then? Can we learn from France? Norway? – from Sicko – Because we can’t all toddle across the channel as needed.

    Norway – Sicko –


  • nevermind

    “If a coalition takes a long time to put together, it’s a coalition.”

    well spotted, how did you manage that? Indeed a coalition talk has nothing to do with looking at each others policy pointers, nor does it suffice to be hurried by financial interests who are floating your particular boat, mein kleiner Zwerg.

    Just consider for one moment, if there is such notion at all for you, that you are meeting most, or all of the posters writing here, at a garden party.
    You would not dare to use your foul mouthed denigrations and personal attacks and you would be very quiet, would you not?.
    Because everyone would recognise you the moment you open your mouth and I would not be the only one stuffing it with volovants, boxing does not even come into it.

    You may call this cabinet of newbie speed daters a coalition, being such a learned person, I could not possibly agree with such amateur politics.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    “Well, what started off as a get well card has quickly degenerated into the usual shit-fight punctuated with tedious RSS news feeds”

    Exactly my point, Jemand. And have a look to see who started it (hint: start at posts 28 and 29 from you know who)

  • Mary - for Truth and Justice

    I hope Craig was not watching the One Show tonight. They had an item from the same hospital which he attends, the QEQM, where an ex builder/carpenter is employed as a ‘Qualified Surgical Practitioner’ to carry out carpal tunnel operations. Some of the patients had no idea that he is not a trained or qualified doctor.

    There is a myriad of nerves, tendons and blood vessels running through the wrist joint. The mind boggles at what could go wrong and what happens if a mistake is made.

    In many cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, a steroid injection will eliminate the pain and discomfort.

  • Mary - for Truth and Justice

    Cameron is planning to sell off the plasma service. Please sign this petition.
    I was a blood donor. The public make voluntary donations of their blood from which plasma is extracted.


    Save our Blood Plasma Service

    To: Daniel Poulter – Minister of State for Health Services

    Dear Daniel Poulter,

    Don’t let private companies profit from blood plasma donations. Scrap your plan to sell off Plasma Resources UK and keep our Blood Plasma Service public.

    Why is this important?

    The government is planning to sell off Plasma Resources UK, the firm responsible for supplying blood plasma products to the NHS, to a private contractor.

    We, the undersigned feel that this is unacceptable for the following reasons:

    1. Blood plasma is essential for the treatment of many conditions, including burns, shock and major trauma; immune disorders and neurological conditions; protecting unborn children from haemolytic diseases. Possibly best known plasma product is Factor VIII used to treat around 3,000 haemophilia patients.

    2. The profit impetus may compel any company taking over services to cut corners in order to make return. This could have devastating consequences for patient safety should contaminated, poorly packaged or improperly labelled products reach frontline healthcare services.

    The next part of this section is a fuller statement about Blood Plasma and why it is so important to stop the sell off of Plasma Resources UK. It shows how the Government has already split plasma services away from the National Blood Service so that part of what was a unified Blood Transfusion Service can be sold off for profit.

    More here http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-our-blood-tranfusion-service

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