After three months of holding off from going to the doctors about my aching joints I decided it was time to book an appointment.
From past experience I’ve learned that trying to see my doctor is a bit like ordering tickets to see a rock star perform live.
You have to ring the surgery non-stop from 8am until you eventually get through and then when you do get through you get quizzed about your condition by the receptionist.
This always feels somewhat intrusive to me but you have no choice so I explained about my shoulders, hips and knees and how I’ve been putting off making an appointment for months now.
Somewhat predictably my condition was deemed not an emergency – which I thought is what A & E is for – so could I ring tomorrow. I did the same thing the next day with the same result.
Having largely shut up shop at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak it feels like the extremely well-paid, mainly part-time GPs that work at my surgery are making no effort to catch-up. It’s operating like so many public services, for the benefit of the people who work there.
Why not schedule non-emergency appointments to the following week, I asked, but no that’s not possible. Why is that not possible, I responded, because that’s what ‘management’ have decided. I must admit to expressing my frustration during the phone call and I’m now wondering whether I’m going to be struck off their register.
Somewhat chastened by this experience I decided to take my business elsewhere! For some years now I’ve been meaning to register with my local surgery – the one I’m with now I joined when I was at a previous address.
At the local surgery I timidly walked in to the empty waiting room, masked up as required and respectfully made my enquiry about registering.
I felt like I was intruding on a meeting of the three reception staff, one of whom belatedly and in her own good time, brusquely told me to go away and do it all online.
Truth is, I know, my condition is relatively minor but it’s the tens of thousands of other people who are suffering with serious illnesses many of whom are unable to see their GP that I worry about.
Then there are the similar numbers of people whose cancer diagnosis has been delayed or who’ve had operations cancelled, many of whom are really suffering in literally life or death situations.
I did clap for carers in those early weeks of the lockdown, and felt emotional when doing it, but this, the day-to-day reality of our NHS is shameful and urgently needs reform.
Truth is with all else that needs sorting not least with our economy plus the unwillingness of all political parties to properly face up to the issues in the NHS I see absolutely zero chance of anything changing for the better in my lifetime.