Rarely in my life have I felt so powerless and alienated as I do right now.
I used to have a little bit of power when I employed people. I know they only did what I asked them to do because I paid them but I could still get some things done.
After yesterday’s nought out of ten fail on my to-do list, this feeling was heightened still further by a letter I received from my doctors.
It’s a standard letter headed ‘Zero Tolerance’ which lists a series of misdemeanours including racism, violence, physical damage, drug taking, physical and verbal abuse.
The letter goes on to say that “after an investigation of the incident” that I will be removed from the list if there is any “repeat of [my] behaviour”. In all my 60 years I’ve never received a missive like this – another retirement first!
The so-called “incident” relates to me forcefully but honestly and respectfully expressing my frustration at not being able to book an appointment to see the doctors.
Both my daughters work in customer-facing roles and they’ve told me how depressed they feel when dealing with angry customers. As a result I am particularly careful about how I express myself when I’m unhappy with the service I get.
The truth is, there is absolutely NO WAY – I know I mustn’t shout! – I said anything that can be remotely construed as verbal abuse.
I can’t tell you how outraged this letter makes me feel. Having gone AWOL for most of this health emergency now my local surgery is making no effort to see patients who have been waiting months to book an appointment.
It’s a subject, after all, worth getting passionate about. Health is important and GPs are the gateway to our anointed NHS. Yet for many of us that gate is locked.
A report out yesterday forecast that over 100,000 people could die as a result of the effects of lockdown, many because of delays in accessing the health service. For some people this is literally life or death.
I want to set out my side, overturn this warning and at the same time register justifiable complaints about the poor service the surgery offers.
Yet deep down I know, for sure, that whatever I do will be a complete waste of time, my voice will not be heard and nothing will change, I’ve just got to be patient – how apt that word is – apathetic, not give a shit. After all anger begets anger. I think it was this sense of powerlessness that partly contributed to my original outburst.
I’m white, male, middle class, comfortably off, educated, reasonably tech-savvy and articulate, can stand up for myself and yet I feel like this. God knows how people without these advantages such as minorities, those with communication issues, older people and yes ill people cope.
It really is an outrage but there is absolutely nowhere to turn.