Spent the first half-an-hour today trying to get through to our heroic NHS.
I’ve got what feels like quite a nasty water infection which came on all of a sudden yesterday while I was out running. People tell me it’s a condition that, at my age, can become quite serious if ignored!
Despite drinking copious quantities of water the symptoms persisted all day yesterday and I don’t feel much better this morning.
The doctors weren’t open at 8am, as advertised, but not long after I started getting ‘user busy’ as soon as I punched the number in my phone.
Employing the same technique I remember from the old days when trying to book a ticket to see a rock star, I just sat there chain ringing.
I tried from another phone for a while and then went on the website to see if there was an alternative number.
There wasn’t but my attempt to ring via the phone number link brought up the message: ‘This website has been blocked from automatically starting a call’. Never seen that before but impressive they’ve managed to organise that unhelpful function.
Here I noted the surgery the surgery has a 2.8 out of 5 google rating with most reviewers complaining they can’t get appointments.
After half-an-hour and 35 attempts I eventually got through. I nearly fell off my chair but I had plenty of time to collect my thoughts as I then had to listen to a very lengthy message which in summary told me to not make an appointment if I had Covid symptoms.
It also went on to say that you shouldn’t contact NHS 111 either unless you were really ill. It was a kind of lengthy ‘Don’t Call Us or Them’ message.
Presently I got to speak to the surgery receptionist and tentatively and very politely asked if I could see a doctor. I actually tried to make myself sound old and doddery to get a bit of sympathy.
Immediately I was told that all appointments had been taken. I didn’t dare ask if I could make an appointment for another day because I know this is “not possible” from my last attempt at doing this which ended in me being branded a troublemaker.
Eventually the awkward silence was filled by the receptionist asking if it was an emergency.
I told her what I thought was wrong with me, mentioned I was in my sixties and said that I felt pretty rough with it which was only partly true.
An unnecessary personal question ensued which, presumably I answered correctly, and reluctantly, it seemed, the receptionist said she would talk to the oncall doctor and ring me back at some unspecified time. That’s some sort of success, I guess.
What with the last week’s announcement of another six months of coronavairus restrictions, I reckon that doctors’ surgeries – the entry point to our NHS – will remain effectively closed to both Covid and most routine illnesses for a good year.
I spent many a Thursday evening clapping for our NHS in those early weeks of lockdown, I feel like booing now.