I walked to the shops this morning along the icy pavements. On the way I met an old friend and we stopped for a gossip. We used to work together in one of the GP surgeries I worked in. We are both retired now. After chatting about the old days, as you do, she mentioned that she was just about to have an operation.
This is a short edited version of her story of the modern NHS.
Several years ago she began to have problems with a hand. So she went to GP. He said "ermmm, don't really know what is the cause but perhaps its your neck" and sent her off to the physio. She did all the exercises the physio suggested (and I believe her) and her hand didn't get better. So back to the GP. More watchful waiting. Finally she got an appointment with a consultant.
"I think I may have to inject your neck" he says.
"Ohh no" says my friend "Not until you check out the hand properly to see if there is another cause.
He agreed in the end and sent her off for some investigations and scans etc. As usual there was a delay of a few weeks before the investigations and then another delays (months) before a follow-up appointment with the consultants.
Amazingly the results were there at the same time she was. "errrmm" he said. I am still not convinced. But she persisted and he did another examination and then sent her for some nerve conduction tests. Another delay before the tests were done.
Then another wait before a trip to the consultant, again with test results.
"Yes" he said " you do indeed have what you thought you had". "You need an urgent operation as the results are very bad".
Now you may think the story ends there. But no!
The operation required is on the 'Low Priorities List' and will only be done under exceptional circumstances. So the consultant and GP have to write to the Primary Care Trust asking for permission to add her to the urgent waiting list. So another delay while the letter is written and the Panel reviews the request.
Luckily the PCT agreed and she will be getting the operation next month.
However in the several years that this has gone on her condition has got so bad that the operation needs to be done urgently. It also means that her other hand has been overused and she fears it is going the same way.
This is the modern NHS.
Long delays. Treatments being rationed. Patients suffering and conditions getting worse. New barriers such as Low Priority Lists and Exceptional Circumstances reviews.
This is not good enough!