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Choose & Book pt2

As I said in the previous post, I used the Choose & Book system to get a hospital appointment most convenient to me and booked an appointment at the nearest hospital which was for September 20th.

Last Monday I received a letter telling me that the appointment had been cancelled and saying it could be one of three reasons why this might have been necessary (in other words take your pick) and I would be sent another appointment.

The following day when the mail arrived at lunch-time, I received a letter stating they had made an appointment for me that afternoon at 2.45, not at the local hospital but at the hospital near Crewe. The letter reiterated that I should not to drive myself because I would have drops put in my eyes, which was why I’d opted for the local hospital in the first place.

I rang to cancel the appointment and to ask why I had to go to Crewe instead of Northwich. It transpired that I shouldn’t have had the option of Northwich in the first place as they didn’t hold a primary clinic there at all. So I made an appointment for the following week, (yesterday), on the understanding that it would depend on J being able to take me there.

All was set, yesterday dawned, my appointment was for 1.55 and J had arranged time off work and was scheduled to pick me up at 1.00pm. At 9.15am I got a phone call from the hospital and a woman said can you come in now! When I asked why, she said she didn’t know. I rang J who luckily was able to rearrange things and agree to take me then.

We duly arrived at the clinic at about 10.15am and still I wasn’t given any explanation as to why I’d been summoned in the morning. Eventually, after we played musical seats being moved from one area of the building to another, I was taken in by a nurse to read the bottom line of an eye chart. I asked her why I’d had the time changed and her explanation was that they had a spare doctor and no patients booked in for him to see. In other words, admin was given the task of dragging in any patients who could turn up to make a list!

After waiting a further hour with no explanation, I was taken by another nurse to have drops put in; by this time I’d had enough. I told her what had transpired and complained that the complete lack of adequate communication wasn’t good enough. She, of course, wasn’t party to any of the cock-up but was good enough to say she understood my frustration and would speak to the department manager.

Thankfully very soon afterwards I was called to see the consultant who was thorough and efficient and confirmed that I didn’t have anything seriously wrong with my eyes and didn’t need to be seen again.

When I came out the nurse I’d complained to made a point of coming to tell me she had passed on my comments to the manager. Whether they will be acted upon, I have no idea but Thank God I don’t have to go back again to find out!


August 29, 2012 Posted by | oldpeople | , | 1 Comment

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

Coffee, Cake & Chat

The other day I got this pushed through the door!

As I read the card I had the same reaction as I do to the unsolicited junk mail from Saga! Why does somebody think I’m a lonely old woman in need of company?

I cannot imagine anything worse than turning up to have coffee & cake with a bunch of complete strangers, never mind the fact that are a ‘holy’ bunch of strangers presumably out to save me! The only thing that stirred my curiosity a little was to see how an old railway station has been turned into a church. The station building is no longer used but the trains still run regularly and stop to pick up and drop off passengers which must be a bit distracting during services.

However, my curiosity isn’t great enough for me to succumb to the invitation. Old I might be, after all I was born before the dinosaurs, but in need of company? NO! I’m independent, self-sufficient and very happy with my own friends and family and indeed with my own company!

So come every Wednesday from 1pm-3pm, I won’t be there!

October 26, 2010 Posted by | oldpeople | | 1 Comment

Marmite Bars

I love Marmite! It’s my favourite spread to have on hot buttered toast. Today, I succumbed to the advertising campaign and bought a box of six 25g bars.

Having just tried one I wonder what is the point of them? They look like all other cereal bars but I was so disappointed that they didn’t give me the kick of Marmite I expected.

An inspection of the ingredients showed that they are a mixture of wheat, rice & oat cereals, soya kernels and 16% Marmite. Salt is mentioned twice in the list but, interestingly, there is also barley malt extract, rice starch syrup and sugar.

I know Marmite is one of those tastes you either love or hate so is the addition of the sugars an attempt by Unilever to appeal to the haters.

If this is so I fear they’ve missed the boat! The bars aren’t sweet enough to appeal to the haters and aren’t Marmite(y) enough to suit the lovers.

Don’t think I will want to try another so now need to find someone else to willing to give them a try. I’ve got five bars going free!

October 21, 2010 Posted by | oldpeople | | 1 Comment

Any Price Rise is Regrettable

This morning I got this note from the milkman!

So my daily pinta went up by not 1p or 2p but 3 pence a pint two days ago. Couching this news in apologies doesn’t make  it any easier to take!

What justification do they have for such a massive price rise? Are the cows producing less milk? And wouldn’t have been nice to have been notified in advance so that I could make the choice of telling them to take a running jump!

Having milk delivered is so much more convenient and it comes in proper bottles which is better for the environment so I know I will accept it but for them to make this assumption really makes my blood boil!

September 29, 2010 Posted by | oldpeople | , , | Leave a comment

Politicians & Twitter

When the candidates for leader of the Labour Party were announced what seems like years ago now so long and drawn out was the process, I decided to follow them all on Twitter. I hoped that I would be able to get a picture of the candidates outside of the rhetoric and be able to form an opinion of them as people.

Why am I disappointed that it didn’t happen? Most of the tweets from all five candidates consisted of saying “Thanks for your support!” ” Come and meet a b c d or e at such and such place” or how rewarding it was to attend events such as from Ed Balls “just cut a cake at ……. nursery school”.

Moreover, although it wasn’t specified, many of the tweets appeared to have been written by members of their team and not by the candidate themselves. Isn’t that deception?

So at the end of the campaign apart from learning that Andy Burnham supports Brentford, I have no more idea of what the candidates are really like. Trawling through the rhetoric hasn’t helped either as I am still unable to say if Ed Milliband will be a better leader than David, Andy, Diane or Ed would have been.

It’s a pity that the result of this experiment is no better than when I tried it with my local Labour party candidate during the general election. If politicians are going to use social networking sites it seems to me that they should learn how to use them first!

September 27, 2010 Posted by | oldpeople | , , | Leave a comment

BSkyB Update 2

Just to keep you in the loop, my Sky box arrived yesterday morning!

It wasn’t a Sky engineer but Shaun from a firm called First Line Digital who are franchised by Sky, which probably accounts for his being pleasant, helpful and very efficient.

Anyway he set up the HD box and was about to show me the difference in the picture quality when viewing a programme in HD, only for him to find that I didn’t have an HD subscription set up!

As you will see in my first post on this subject I described how I made the decision to adjust my package to accommodate an HD subscription and in God’s name who would request an HD box without signing up for HD services anyway. He rang through to Sky and I got to speak to an advisor, the 6th person since this saga started and I confirmed I wanted HD.

The HD picture is different, sharp and clear but the brightness of the colour takes some getting used to; overall, though, the clarity alone makes it worth it. However, how much it’ll cost is another thing, having spoken to so many people and had so may different answers I’ve lost track of what they will decide I should be paying. I fear the battle is not yet over!

On a lighter note, Sky rang this morning for me to complete an automated customer satisfaction survey! Alas, there wasn’t an option for ROFL!

September 14, 2010 Posted by | oldpeople | | Leave a comment

BSkyB update

Alas the saga continues!

At 1.00pm I received a call from Sky asking me if I wanted to have my HD box earlier than Monday, I pointed out that I had expected to have it today so my answer to her question was in the affirmative. She said to give her 10 or 15 minutes and she’d ring me back.

One hour and 45 minutes later I was still waiting and wondering what was going on and had yet another visit been cancelled without telling me. I returned her call but the number she called from is not available to mere customers so I rang the main number and having gone through the number of options yet again I got an advisor, that’s fourth I’ve spoken to today.

I had to explain the whole sorry mess again and he said “I see your installation was cancelled. Why was that?” Poor bloke, it’s lucky I’m totally exhausted by the situation or he’d have got both barrels. He didn’t know who had rung but confirmed that the installation was still booked for Monday morning.

At least this bloke admitted that all their apologies for my inconvenience were meaningless and he put in a request for a credit of £40 credit to be applied to my account.

Watch this space!!!!!

September 10, 2010 Posted by | oldpeople | , | Leave a comment


On Tuesday my Sky+ box went wrong so I rang and booked a service call for Thursday afternoon. After a conversation with J it seemed more economical to adjust my package and upgrade to an HD box.

I rang back and they cancelled the service call, arranged the adjusted package and the installation of an HD box for this afternoon. I was a happy bunny ‘cos I’d have it for the weekend and be able to record the final of the US Open (always a night game and I can’t stay awake that late).

This morning I received a letter from Sky saying “Welcome back” and my account was £51 outstanding “please ring ….to arrange payment”. Very confused I rang Sky only to be told that I should ignore the letter but that the installation visit had been cancelled. I assured them that I had not cancelled but they couldn’t tell me why the visit had been cancelled or by whom!

I was tranferred to three different advisors and eventually I demanded to speak to a manager but despite being on the phone for almost an hour (a good proportion of which was me being put on hold) all I achieved was them repeating empty apologies that the visit had been cancelled but no explanation. Not only that they could not re-instate the visit and could only book a new call for Monday morning.

I’ve been a customer of Sky for many years but this doesn’t seem to matter to them. Oh yes, they will reimburse me for the days I haven’t had the Sky+ service but it seems to me that, as my son says, as long as they can screw you for as much money as possible, customer service comes a very poor second.

Another point is that had I not received the weird letter from Sky I would have been sitting here all afternoon waiting for them to arrive.

A letter to the CEO, Jeremy Darroch, is on it’s way but I won’t hold my breath!!!!

September 10, 2010 Posted by | oldpeople | , | Leave a comment

New Experience

Today I visited a chiropractor for the first time. When I lived in Nottinghamshire any issues I’ve had with my back and neck were sorted by a visit to a friend who is an orthopaedic physician, now I have no access to him unless I make an 180 mile round trip.

My problem started last Monday, when after enjoying my post-gym cup of coffee I found I couldn’t stand up without severe pain in my lower back. I wasn’t aware of having done anything out of the ordinary at the gym but the manner and location of the pain made me realise it was certainly muscular rather than a disc.

I could treat this myself, I thought and got dosed up with strong pain killers, extra cushions and a hot water bottle and walked around for a bit every half hour. Tuesday came and went with little improvement but lots of frustration when I couldn’t pick things up from the floor.

I rummaged in the garage and found a grabber which once belonged to my late aunt which solved the problem somewhat but it didn’t help when emptying the dishwasher and although it was good for putting out the empty milk bottle I had to crawl to the door and bring the full one in in stages.

Over the next few days my back improved but although I was virtually pain free by yesterday I was aware of a tightness in the muscle and finally gave in and go and see somebody. A friend recommended the Cheshire Chiropractic Clinic which happens to be in Northwich. I’ve always had some misgivings about complementary medicine having heard many stories about unqualified practitioners but I checked the clinic out and made an appointment.

I have to say the assessment was very thorough and I was relieved when he made the same diagnosis of a muscle strain as I had. The treatment wasn’t unpleasant although having wedges propping up each side of my body and the table dropping suddenly as he poked and prodded my back was a bit weird but the massage which followed was very relaxing.

Treatment finished and then he said my back would probably be worse later and I should apply ice packs for 10mins each hour. He was right! That’s where I’m at now and I don’t much like the ice pack, much prefer a comfy hot water bottle but I’ll do as he says and go back on Tuesday for a repeat performance.

I know many people swear by these complementary medical practitioners but I have always been wary, however, now I can tick another experience off my list and assuming the pain goes away for good it’ll have been worth overcoming my fears.

August 26, 2010 Posted by | oldpeople | | 1 Comment