More NHS Awfulness 81


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.


81 thoughts on “More NHS Awfulness

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  • Q

    Painful as it is, Craig, your doctor is right, although somewhat more abrupt than you might have liked. The foot problem is a pain management issue for now. Stretching, icing and alternative therapy methods will help a great deal until you see the specialist. Therapies such as Active Release, the Graston Technique and low-level laser may work for you. Plantar fasciitis, heel spurs and pain are related, but the pain component is poorly understood. See a physiotherapist for further advice. You might also want to visit one of those specialty running shoe stores, where they are familiar with plantar fasciitis in runners. They can fit you in a pair of sneakers that will help. You’ll also be able to set a new trend for medically-necessary business attire!

  • doug scorgie

    Fred
    13 Jun, 2013 – 9:35 pm

    “When I had a paralysed finger it was around nine months before I got a phone call from Raigmore to tell me I had an appointment for tests. I explained it had got better on it’s own months before.”

    Two points:

    1. Obviously nothing serious.

    2. Why didn’t you inform your GP or Raigmore hospital that you no longer needed an appointment?

    Perhaps the cause of your paralysed finger was repetitive strain due to your hand signals to Scottish Nationalists.

  • fedup

    repetitive strain due to your hand signals to Scottish Nationalists.

    ROFLMAO. The best yet.

  • doug scorgie

    Guano
    14 Jun, 2013 – 12:05 pm
    And:
    Guano
    14 Jun, 2013 – 12:53 pm

    Guano, please increase your medication; the dose is obviously too low.

  • Jemand

    Craig, you might try finding a local GP near where you are staying on your African visit and get a daily shot of local anesthetic to deaden the pain for the duration of your meetings. Depending on where you are staying, a doctor’s callout to your hotel could be cheap enough. Tho’ you’d probably end up walking around like a club-footed monster.

  • Fred

    “Perhaps the cause of your paralysed finger was repetitive strain due to your hand signals to Scottish Nationalists.”

    Actually it was down to pressure on a nerve in my neck, I suffer from spondylosis which is a degenerative disease of the spine.

    Now fuck off areshole.

  • Latimer

    I had quite unusual experience recently at Chelsea and Westminster hospital. After quite a painful kidney operation I went for a follow up appointment. I was still having pain, and the consultant said all stones had been removed and i have almost brand new kidneys. To my question why then i still have pain he just made a funny face. But i insisted that i want to go for ultrasound scan. He then filled a form and sent me to x-ray department. On my halfway i realised that it was not my name on the form. I ran back to him to explain that he made a mistake and he made a decision about my kidneys being ok looking at smn else’s results on his computer. He did not want to accept my accusations but allowed me to do the scan and filled out a new form. I did the x-ray and yesterday went for an appointment again. By this time now my pain is more severe with occasional rising temperatures. And the doctor met me in the corridor, he apologized and said he left some fractions of stent in my kidney during the previous operation! He hays he “may have missed them”. Can you believe that. A surgeon missed some fractions of plastic stent inside my kidney and he was saying everything was ok with my kidneys! Unbelievable. If smn here knows legal professionals who can help me to sue the trust i would be thankful.

  • Villager

    Latimer, check out this firm: Slater Gordon. They do work on a no-win, no-fee basis.

  • Villager

    Jemand/Craig good thought though i would try physiotherapy instead: Laser, ultrasound, Intramuscular stimulation, Electro shock wave (as Mike originally recommended), Icing…combination of these. Private physics in developing countries cost nothing in sterling terms. Get your local friends to find the best, get going and be regular.

    Be careful with room-service food — it can counter your efforts through wrong food. On the other hand it can facilitate a special diet. Avoid, in principle, all sour and fermented foods!

  • Villager

    Extract from Q’s link posted earlier too:

    “A new treatment for heel spurs chronic plantar fasciitis is being investigated. This treatment, called extracorporeal shock wave therapy, or ESWT, uses energy pulses to induce microtrauma to the tissue around the heel spur. This microtrauma is thought to induce a tissue repair process by the body. ESWT is recommended in patients who have failed the previously mentioned treatments, and are considering surgical options.”

  • Abe Rene

    Isn’t there some rule that if we can’t get treated within a reasonable period in the UK, we can go to France and reclaim the cost here?

    Alternatively, perhaps you could get privately treated in Ghana. It should cost less than the UK, avoid the bureaucracy and probably be as effective.

  • Pete

    Craig, you need to change your GP. He is medically incompetent quite apart from anything else, for the following reasons:

    Firstly, foot pain is much more than a “pain management” issue, because you will automatically tend to avoid weight-bearing on the affected foot. However your body is designed to bear weight equally on both feet. You will therefore eventually get a knock on effect of musculo-skeletal imbalances going up through your knees, hips, and spine, all of which have to adjust in order to keep you upright.

    Secondly, if you take loads of pain killers over a long period there will be side effects, especially with the NSAIDs (like Ibuprofen), which are an avoidable and potentially serious medical issue.

    In the longer term the heel spur needs to be shaved off in a small operation, but in the meantime a good podiatrist (chiropodist) could maybe make you an orthotic (insole) that would reduce pressure on the affected area. This should not be that expensive.

  • Pete

    PS if you follow Jermand’s suggestion of a daily shot of local anaesthetic while in Africa, you need to be very careful cos this will also block out necessary pain signals, eg if you stepped on something sharp- you don’t want untreated skin lesions especially in a tropical climate. If you did go down that road you’d need to behave like a diabetic, ie wear shoes/sandals all the time you’re not actually in bed, and check the soles of your feet daily. For this reason I don’t recommend the local anaesthetic idea despite its obvious attractions. Remember that lepers end up the way they do mainly because of their permanent lack of feeling in the extremities.

  • doug scorgie

    Fred
    14 Jun, 2013 – 11:29 pm

    “I suffer from spondylosis…”

    Well Fred, has your diagnosis been confirmed?

    It could be something serious like congenital syphilis.

    Do you have a square head?

  • doug scorgie

    Latimer
    15 Jun, 2013 – 1:47 am

    “If smn here knows legal professionals who can help me to sue the trust i would be thankful.”

    Latimer, some insurance policies that you might have (even home insurance) can cover legal costs under these circumstances; check them out.

    However, don’t be too hopeful; the NHS is a monster when it comes to a legal challenges as I know to my cost.

  • Horace Swanson

    Craig

    Are there any other GPs around? I’ve found some surgeries are less arsey than others – if there’s a choice it might be worth asking around and if one seems better you could try to switch.

  • Jockmoron

    Craig, sorry to hear of your problems. I last worked as a GP in the UK in the 1980’s, I would normally be a stout defender of the NHS, it certainly wasn’t perfect, but at least you got treatment based on need and not on ability to pay, and for the most part, I thought it worked. My wife, though, a nurse from NZ, is fond of telling me that her experience of working in the NHS was less than stellar, even all those years ago.

    Plantar fasciitis is generally what one might consider a “nuisance” condition, hardly serious, but bad enough in some sufferers to be quite disabling. There are lots of suggested treatments, which generally means no-one really knows how best to treat. Usually rest, heat, a comfortable shoe ( I would recommend trainers a size too large with a soft, probably closed-cell foam insole or heel pad , eg Spenco), thick socks, avoiding walking any more than necessary, keeping fit by cycling or swimming, antiinflammatories, and see a physiotherapist or podiatrist with experience in dealing with this condition. Stretching exercises for instance can be quite beneficial. You say you have a spur, what you need to know is this is not necessarily the cause of the pain, which might be not quite in the same place. Spurs are not that uncommon in people without symptoms, conversely spurs are often absent with really troublesome fasciitis. In other words, they can be diagnostic red-herrings.

    I would also agree that whilst your doctor’s advice might be true in a sense, that his communication skills might need to be upgraded, you shouldn’t have been left feeling so inadequately treated, ditto the receptionist. If it’s a “pain management problem” then that’s actually the doctor’s job, not yours, to deal with it. In addition, whilst your condition isn’t “urgent”, any competent GP should be able to get a letter away the same day, it’s now generally a matter of cutting and pasting computer notes to an electronic form. Equally he should be able to provide a private referral just as quickly.

    I am reading this as I hear of yet another major scandal in an NHS hospital. This truly is appalling, but the NHS is under siege, it is an unloved and embarrassing encumbrance of another age for far too many politicians, and if the effort is not put in to make the NHS as good as it could be, if it is constantly undermined and reorganised and if funds just aren’t enough or the staff too pressured, then the result will be chaotic and poor. A cynic or conspiracy theorist would say this is a deliberate ploy so as to undermine the public’s confidence in the NHS, so that continued privatisation can be accomplished with less opposition. The cynic and the conspiracy theorist may well be right.

  • BGD

    Craig, Just refuse to use Thanet, we do.

    If possible – i.e. when you have someone to drive you, use William Harvey in Ashford – excellent.

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