Yet another NHS system designed to make you go mad…

Yet another NHS system designed to make you go mad.

Don’t get me wrong, the NHS is a marvellous system and without it I’d have probably bankrupted my parents before I reached aged 18, being the clumsy pillock that I am. But sometimes you come across NHS procedures or systems that are designed specifically to make you so angry and frustrated that you go away and leave them alone, thereby saving the NHS some much-needed cash. One of these systems is the appointments system and anyone who has had to deal with this will know exactly what I mean.

The problem was this – at the last eye clinic appointment I went to, the eye was still infected and the little consultant man wanted me to come back in a week for yet another 3 hours of quality waiting room time and another eye check. In the meantime I was to keep putting in the eye drops and eye cream. I informed him that I would be abroad then so he agreed to make it two weeks, which would leave me with an appointment tomorrow. Fine. It would be posted out to me. Lovely. Except that this is clearly far too complex a matter for an organisation with a budget of billions and more staff than virtually any other government funded department because when I opened the post on my return from the airport yesterday (Thursday), it seems that I’d been sent an appointment for the day before, Wednesday, when I’d told the guy I was abroad. The letter said that if I didn’t turn up for my appointment I’d be automatically discharged so I wanted to get it sorted but a quick ring round the secretaries I got diverted to assured me that the old system of never employing a consultant’s secretary that works past midday still holds true so nothing could be done until today.

Which is when the fun really started.

I finally managed to get hold of Mr Turner’s secretary who was none too pleased to hear from me.

“Why did they put you through to me?”

“No idea, I assumed you’d know that.”

“Well I don’t. You want Mr S’s secretary. So I’ll put you through to her”.

Fine. Except that Mr S’s secretary wasn’t exactly helpful either.

“Why have they put you through to me?” (anyone else spotting a pattern)

“Probably because I’m down for Mr S’s clinic at a guess”

Massive snort down the phone “Well I don’t deal with people who have missed their appointments. That’s what the outpatients booking system is for, so I suggest you speak to them.”

“I did. They put me through to Mr Turner’s secretary who put me through to you”.

“Well I can’t help you so you’ll have to ring them back”

Fine you snotty little bitch, I will. “Right then, thanks SO much for your time and effort. Goodbye”

So I did.

Which just made me angry.

“The soonest I can do is September the 13th

“Pardon? I think I misheard you.”

“September 13th. In clinic C. Do you want it?”

“But I’ve got an infected eye and I’ve been being treated in clinic F, under a totally different person”.

“Well you’re the one who didn’t bother to turn up for your appointment aren’t you?”

“No, actually I’m not. I’m the one who got an appointment for a time when she’d told the consultant she was in a different country, it’s not the same thing”.

“There nothing in your notes to say you were on holiday”.

“That’s not my fault. I didn’t write them.”

“Well if it’s not in your notes then it’s your fault you got sent the wrong appointment”.

“Fine, well I’ll know for next time to make sure I request to read them before I leave the room, but in the meantime, I need an appointment sooner than that”.

“There’s nothing. Oh hang on, there’s one mid-august.”

“Can I just ask, if last week I could be allocated one in a week, why is there suddenly nothing available for over a month? Has there been a sudden spate of mysterious eye injuries while I was away?”

“Er no, it’s because YOU didn’t turn up for your appointment”.

Now the red mist is beginning to descend, I’m struggling not give the chippy little tart both barrels of my temper and inform her that I’m most impressed with the level of proficiency she’s reached in the ‘NHS Certificate of Being an Unhelpful, Supercilious and Snotty Witch who thinks they are Doing You a Favour by Even Taking Your Call”.

“As I’ve just explained, I didn’t ‘not turn up”.

“Well if you’re not happy you’ll have to go back to the eye A&E and queue again to get seen and get another referral won’t you?”

“Thank you so much for the tip. And if I take the August appointment, what do I do about my medication?”

“What medication?”

“The medication I was given a two week supply of to see me through to the next appointment and that I have to apply to my infected eye 5 times a day to try and heal it.”

“Dunno. I’m outpatients appointments, not my department. You want the nursing staff for that. Do you want this appointment or not?”.

By this time I am struggling not to climb down the telephone and smack the smug twat straight between the eyes.

“Fine, send me the appointment. And can you put me through to the nursing team?”

So she does, and I speak to them, only to be informed that they can do nothing at all to help me and that I’ll have to come into the eye A&E and queue to see a doctor to write me a repeat prescription of the medication that I don’t have enough of because either a consultant or a secretary is too stupid to be able to tell the difference between ‘Wednesday’ and ‘Friday’. Because it’s not like I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed the 12 hours plus of time that I’ve already spent queuing in various departments of the eye hospital is it?

Rest assured, there will be a letter of complaint nestling in the in-tray of the Eye Hospital before the start of next week. And if karma is worth anything, the snotty appointments cow will come back in the next life as a haemorrhoid on the arse of someone unsavoury.

Update: I was in such a bad mood by the time I got home that I had a paddy with the washing machine and kicked the door. Which broke the catch. A man is coming out to look at it on Monday. I'm officially a complete fucking tool.

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17 Responses

  1. Un-fucking-believable. At last it would be, if I hadn't had a hospital appointment bumped 5 times last year – always getting the postpone letter just the day before and after I'd rejigged work meetings so that I could go.
    Oh, and then there was the surgeon who put some titanium clips in my boob – well, that was what the notes said. Except she didn't. As it was solely for the purposes of a clinical trial I'd agreed to take part in, I wasn't too bothered about them being absent – but I did wonder whose notes she thought she was writing and what else might be wrong.
    Haemorrhoid would be too good for those nasty little cows …..

  2. The problem with the NHS is that bitches like this cost a fortune all the way down the line. If the appointment woman wasn't such a chippy little trollop, I wouldn't have had to phone the patient liaison complaints lady, written a letter of complaint that will have to be read and filied under 'ignore' by someone somewhere and chased round various secretaries. And if the consultant wanted to see me in a week but then said that he supposed 2 weeks would be ok, what makes her think that 2 months as first suggested is even vaguely adequate? I know abuse of NHS staff is wrong and bad but if I could have climbed down the phone and beaten her unconscious with her own copy of 'Heat' magazine, I would have done.

  3. Wow – how incredibly frustrating. Like you I don't understand how at the time of your last visit there was an appointment in one and two weeks time but now there is nothing for months.
    I recently had our health insurance decline to pay the ambulance which was called to haul me away when I tripped over and broke my arm/shoulder. They said it was not an "emergency" !! Weirdly though, they did pay for the ER care, emergency x-rays, ER doctor and Ortho doctor all occuring on the same trip. I handed everything over to the manservant to deal with – he is much more patient than I am .
    After ages of hold music and then explaining/pleading/arguing with the service person he was told him we could "appeal" their decision – we did, even though that requires filling in many forms and explaining things you shouldn't have to explain. I'm pretty sure many people do not appeal because it's just too bloody hard.

  4. I swear that's why they make these things so complicated, so that you'll just shut up and go away. They drive you mad…

  5. Unfortunately when you talk to someone on the phone you are already on a loser as no matter how much of a stink you make nobody but the person you are chatting to will hear it.Turning up in person and raving at them always gets results, mainly because they are petty little bullies and they never like a taste of their own medicine.

  6. I had this happen to me once. I went into their office in person, to the office where I had the appointment. I told them that their treatment of me was not successful, and that I was going to sit there and wait for the doctor to see me (I made sure he was in before I told them of my little plan). I also told them that I would not wait quietly, that I would come up and see them every few minutes just to check if they'd had a cancellation or no-show that would allow them to fit me in. They saw me in half an hour.

  7. Jesus fucking Christ on a bike, there's no logical pattern to this. And those secretaries showed an appalling lack of customer service. Ah well, the NHS, our taxes hard at work.

  8. Are you sure he's going to be there on Monday? Maybe you'll miss that appointment as well …

  9. I have to make that appointment, I've restorted to letting myself into my parents house and using their washing machine while they're on holiday. I really need to get the temper under control and learn to count to ten…

  10. My next appointment is allegedly tomorrow afternoon – but I'll put money on getting home tonight to find another letter postponing the damn thing. Small wager anyone?

  11. No one will take you up on it because everyone expects them to cancel at the last minute. After all, we're all methedone addicts sat at home with bog all to do and all day to do it, we don't really have to juggle appointments with work and other commitments. My friend is having triplets so has extra appointments and their appointments are doled out so late that a girl rings her the day before to tell her when it'll be as they pick on a couple of days before the time the appointment is then send it out in 2nd class post, meaning it arrives after the appointment date. Genius. And they wonder why people complain about the NHS bureaucracy.

  12. That thing with the letters has happened to me several times – it's crap. However, I didn't have a letter waiting for me last night – so I am going this afternoon, fully expecting to find my appointment has been cancelled but the letter ain't there yet.
    Gah.

  13. The appointment wasn't cancelled – miracle of miracles.
    I was less than enthralled, however, when the glum-looking bloke on reception said "It could be a while. They're all out at a party and most of 'em probably won't feel like working when they get back."
    I kid you not.
    (so yes, 2 1/2 hours later I was seen ….)

  14. Ah the joys of the clinic wait, never less than 2 hours. My record was at the fracture clinic with my fractured kneecap, a splendid 4 and a bit hours on an uncomfortable plastic chair with a leg in cast from thigh to ankle. Fun. I can't believe he actually said they wouldn't be arsed working, I mean we all knw that's the truth but there's usually this tacit agreement that no one mentions it. He must have been new.

  15. I don't think he was new – just really, really pissed off that he wasn't at the party ….

  16. Aahh,

    Sorry to resurrect this particular memory, which you’ve no doubt successfully forgotten as your blood pressure returned to normal, but, it struck a chord…

    It is an oft-repeated cliche that some people are only alive because it is illegal to kill them. What is not explained is how these people manage to find themsleves in positions where they can really fuck your day up.

    Worse: who employs/promotes these people? Are they actually clones? Is the snotty cow who fucks with your eye appointment the same snotty cow who told me my re-cycling bin would not be emptied for another fortnight because the refuse crew had found a piece of cardboard in it they didn’t like?

    (This incident caused me to stop paying my Council Tax by direct debit: I thought the bastards were having too easy a time grabbing my money, so now I go in, at my convenience, once a month, and take them a cheque) Petty I know, but one has to make a stand occasionally…

    And I do it in the firm’s time.

    • I like your style. I hate the council and the council tax. You’re lucky you didn’t get fined for putting rubbish in the wrong bin, I believe that is their latest wheeze. You should have heard the barney my dad had with his local council over the brown bin. “I’m sorry but the refuse men will not take the brown bin with soil in it, the brown bin of for garden refuse.”, “Well where the fuck do you think I got the soil from? The living room?”, “Soil doesn’t class as garden waste” and so on and so on. Wankers.

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