It s rather humiliating to reveal so much of my personal medical history in order to expose the absolutely dreadful operation of the NHS in Thanet – and this blog is in danger of looking like a medical soap opera sometimes. But as I continue to try to navigate myself through the system with utter disbelief at how awful it is. I thought I would keep you posted.
Like all the best soap operas, here is an update. I am still in my 31 week wait to see a cardiologist. In the meantime, and unrelated, I find I cannot walk for more than a hundred meters without agonising pain. This turns out to be due to spur of bone growing out from the base of my heel. On 6 June I went to see the GP to be told this, and also that it would take about 15 weeks to see a consultant. When I pointed out I could not walk, the GP told me I could walk, it was merely a pain management issue (though I find it hard to believe this much pain can be caused if no damage is being done).
Anyway, I found I had a stark choice between being housebound for months, and opting for private treatment, and shamefacedly I opted for the latter, and asked the doctor for a private referral to the Chaucer Hospital, which he agreed to do. Apparently in the UK you cannot see a specialist, even privately, without a referral from your General Practitioner. I struggle to see the benefit in that peculiar restriction.
Having not heard anything for a week, I today contacted the Chaucer Hospital, who checked and said they had received no referral from my GP. So I contacted my GP’s surgery, who said that the letter of referral had not been sent yet as it was “still working its way through the system” and it was “only a week” since I had seen the GP. I pointed out that a week was a long time to someone who can hardly walk and is in great pain with a readily treatable condition. I asked them if they might fax the letter of referral to a fax number the Chaucer Hospital had given me.
It was plain from the long silence that ensued that this was viewed as a grossly impertinent request. They would have to consult the practice manager. Finally came the answer – they would not fax the letter, but if I waited 24 hours they would print out a copy which I could collect and fax myself….
Which would be simple if a) I could walk and b) I possessed a fax machine. On Sunday I have to go off to Africa which is not going to be easy.