Older Than Dinosaurs…

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Choose & Book

Last week I had my first experience of the new improved NHS and the much heralded patient choice!

A month ago I experienced some visual disturbances in my left eye and duly went off to the optician. The optician did all the usual checks and said that although there was some vitreous degeneration there didn’t appear to be any retinal tears but she would refer me to be checked by an ophthalmologist who would be able to see a wider retinal field.

Three weeks went by and not having heard from the hospital, I checked with the opticians if this was the normal waiting time for some communication about my appointment. I was then informed that they don’t make a direct referral unless it’s urgent but had sent the referral request to my GP.

I called at the surgery to inquire what was happening only to find that although they had received the referral from the optician immediately after my appointment, they’d done nothing about it. I expressed my displeasure and was told the secretary would print off a letter, get a GP to sign it for me to collect the next day.

Much to my surprise what I received wasn’t any ordinary referral letter to a consultant but a printed off form for ‘Choose & Book’! I was required to choose one of five hospitals and make my own appointment, not by consultant but the most convenient for me judged by time, distance, parking etc. and whilst the criteria listed are worthy of consideration it’s not how I would choose to get a specialist opinion.

I decided I needed more information so went on-line and looked at the Clinical Excellence scores of the consultants (those that had one, that is) in each hospital. They were all much of a muchness, no one shone out, and as so much time had passed and the visual disturbances hadn’t worsened, I decided to plump for the nearest hospital.

There were four consultants listed at the local hospital none of whom had a CE score above 4 but in any case I found I could only book an appointment from a list which didn’t specify which one it was. I duly booked in and since then have received a letter from the hospital confirming the booking but still not specifying which consultant I will be seeing.

As a patient I want to feel confident that I have been referred to a consultant who will best be able to diagnose and treat my condition; this system gives me no such feelings of confidence so I await my consultation with not a little apprehension.

So much for patient choice!


July 21, 2012 Posted by | oldpeople | , | Leave a comment

Officially Old

Three days into the week and two weeks before my 69th birthday, I now know I am officially old and destined for a care home!

It all started on Monday morning when I went to the doctors to ask when I could expect to receive an appointment to the Ophthalmologist ( my optician had requested a referral on 13th June but more of that another time). At the reception desk I was confronted by a callow youth who looked all of 12 and not exactly someone I felt I wanted to give all my confidential information.

He seemed a bit taken aback when I said, “Who are you?” and mumbled something about being a receptionist. Of course he couldn’t deal with my enquiry and had to get someone else to do it in the end. I wasn’t too happy with the surgery as it was and having to deal with a pre-pubescent ‘yoof’ just made me even more dissatisfied.

The day got even worse! In the middle of the afternoon a fire engine pulled up outside and two firemen came to the door and asked to inspect my smoke alarm. They were very pleasant and passed the smoke alarm although they said I should hoover it inside as it was a bit dusty! They then gave me a leaflet on fire safety and said they would refer me to Age UK. I pointed out that I was quite active and could wash and dress myself despite being of more mature years but apparently it’s part of the service to the elderly!

My son called in that evening to fix the door bell and decided I needed a telling off for not joining in more activities! I am not a joiner-in! I am very happy with my own company and after years of working hard and bringing up two children on my own, I now like my quiet and, maybe to others, mundane life.

You’d think that was enough to make me feel really ancient but no; last evening a bloke came to the door and asked if I’d received the information pack about a telephone line upgrade. I replied that I hadn’t received anything about it. He looked at me as if I was lying, said “It’s green and black and was sent last Wednesday”. I assured him that I had received no such communication to which he replied in a tone as if he was addressing a toddler, “Are you sure you haven’t thrown it away?” My response was quite swift, “I may have grey hair”, I said, “but I’m not stupid!”. He was lucky I didn’t deck him!

So if I needed any reminding of the passage of time, I’ve had it all this week or is there more to come? Will Age UK be next to come and see if I need incontinence pads?

July 11, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments