In Which Joan Smith Discovers The Truth About The NHS…

I can’t be the only relative who has had to deal with social services and doctors at a distance, but just getting anyone to return a phone call was a gargantuan task.

Hmmm, doesn’t seem like something that can be blamed on ‘Toree cutz’, does it?

And, refreshingly for once, there’s no attempt to do so.

This was a recurring problem but it became more acute when I found out from my aunt that my mother was in hospital in January 2014. I immediately called the hospital to find out what was wrong, and was asked to come to an urgent meeting that afternoon. I explained that was physically impossible – it is a drive of seven hours – and I was assured that a consultant would call me back. When I was given a code word that I would need to repeat to the doctor to establish my identity, I realised that something was seriously wrong. I waited hours for a phone call. Nothing happened.

In a state of some agitation, I called the hospital again and managed to track down the consultant.Even now, it is painful to remember the shock I felt when he told me that my mother had late-stage lung cancer. I tried to gather my wits, asking about palliative care, and he promised that someone would call me before any decisions about moving her were taken.

I never heard from him or the hospital again.

I never have any problems getting calls from my car mechanic, hairdresser, veterinarian. They view me as a customer. They want my custom.

The NHS doesn’t view patients as customers. So they have little to no incentive to return calls.

Until my mother’s health failed, I had a naive belief that we lived in a society where relatives could work collaboratively with professionals to get decent care for the elderly.

Two years ago, my faith in that system was shaken to the core. Now Dame Julie’s report suggests that not much has changed.

And what’s your proposal for changing this, Joan? I’d be interested to know.

13 comments for “In Which Joan Smith Discovers The Truth About The NHS…

  1. Errol
    May 24, 2016 at 9:45 am

    The NHS does not work. It simply isn’t interested in the patient. We’re a number, an annoyance that gets in the way of paperwork and inefficiency. Yes, inefficiency. Even without patients the NHS fouls up.

    The staff would blame being overworked – they’re just disorganised. They’ll blame a lack of money form ‘cuts’, yet when there are no cuts as there haven’t been for decades – they become even more inefficient. The NHS has the income larger than many countries. it just spends it badly because there is no incentive to do better.

    It doesn’t work. 8-18 week waiting times for a simple diagnosis is unacceptable. To the NHS this is a great success.

    However conversely I posted on an article about a woman who wanted – on the NHS – to be sterilised. Fine, she makes the choice, she pays the bill. Apparently people think that concept heinous. That’s part of the problem: it’s become the national want service. Same as ‘sex change’ operations, which are mere vanity should not be paid for by the state.

    Problem is, the NHS is so incredibly vast, interwoven and expensive that changing things is difficult. Just as a chum does nothing but stand between schools getting their money so too do trusts prevent hospitals getting funding directly.

    What *should* we do about it?

  2. Errol
    May 24, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Apologies for double posting. Read the artcile comments: ‘well, we should let old people die’, Fabians at work there. Too ‘it’ needs more money’, no, it’s *had more money* and it doesn’t use it well. To the typical ‘blame the Tories’. At no point do these wretched, evil, useless wasteful fools ever accept the problem is blindly obvious and that they won’t accept it: the NHS does not work.

    What would Guardian readers call it? National Suicide service? Fecking swine. These people should be obliterated. Send them into hospital and lets see them ignored, denigrated and treated like sewage. Let’s see their parents in a bed and say ‘we’re going to kill them. It’s ‘fairer’, after all’. Or turn their magic line on them: ah, we can’t give you those drugs, they’re too expensive. Tory cuts, you see. Paying off a deficit racked up by Labour. You’re going to die, might be tomorrow, might be day after. Blame the cuts love, not that we pay £2 for a paracetamol instead of £20 for a thousand.

    I hate them. Such arrogance, such vile, posionous, cretinous ignorance, such desperate refusal to accept the real problem. The Guardian exists on tax avoidance, yet these fools blither on about everything being privatised – yes, that’s why we don’t live in the 70’s. Just find a large rusting boat, tell Guardian readers there’s a windmill on board and push it out to see then scuttle it. There’s only about a hundred thousand of them. It’ll do the country a favour.

    • May 24, 2016 at 10:05 am

      You say some different things in each, so both should be up.

  3. mona
    May 24, 2016 at 11:10 am

    The best thing one can do for the NHS, is to stay away from the NHS ,it exists for the benefit of Big-Pharma, PFI, administrators and Surgeons who rip it off,, I was told I needed stents after an angiogram and was shown a list of the five drugs I must take, I asked the MR Surgeon how long I must take them ,he said ” the rest of your life”, Iooked at him and thought F—k you, that was ten years ago and I saved the NHS thousands, I changed my diet I am quite healthy it was so cheap and simple,, . no Stents, no drugs, for health try the Internet

  4. The Jannie
    May 24, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    “for health try the Internet”

    Then, for entertainment, when you do have to go, let it be known that, thanks to t’interweb, you’re fully clued up on your condition, the latest and/or most effective treatments, etc. They REALLY like that . . .

    • mona
      May 24, 2016 at 9:19 pm

      If you knew my age you would not be so sarcastic, when I am ready to go I will pull the trigger myself, and my dear who are they?

      • Brightside Bob
        May 24, 2016 at 11:20 pm

        Mona: Chill out (no poor taste pun intended)

        I reckon “The Jannie” means “when you do have to go” (back to the hospital) to see the ‘experts’. THAT is when you can have fun, at their pompous expense (or is it our expense…).

        • mona
          May 25, 2016 at 9:26 am

          Thank you.

  5. MwaPW
    May 24, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    Only yesterday I turned up at my local hospital for a routine, post procedure visit. I paid for one hour in the meter and asked were there any delays when at the reception desk (I was abandoned without explanation for one and a half hours a few months previously). I don’t know, said the lady, I’m only helping out… There are four people ahead of you (my appointment was in five minutes) she eventually told me. I went through, was weighed in minutes, then waited, and waited.

    A male nurse then shouted out that Mr P was running over an hour late – I had no idea which doctor I was seeing, so he checked – and yes – it was me (plus at least a few others) – there are three people ahead of you (so the lady did not tell me the truth – one patient had not taken over 30 minutes). The clinic had started at two and I arrived at four o’clock.

    I had to move the car – and move it to another parking zone, as you would get a ticket if you fed the meter – why should this be, you are allowed to park for up to four hours, and I had only been there for one. I arrived back at the hospital – you were called – I was told. Eventually I saw the doctor – at least he was the main man. Don’t listen to the doctor who performed the procedure – he told me – that doctor just likes to operate – keep taking the pills, and I’ll see you in two or three years.

    If my visit was so simple – five minutes max, what on earth were all the others talking about for so long… What I wanted was a text message sometime between two and three o’clock telling me that there were delays. I could have happily stayed at work, saved £2.50, and a lot of frustration (the other “customers” weren’t happy either). At least ten man hours of our lives lost because a doctor couldn’t start a clinic on time – no explanation given – of course.

  6. Stonyground
    May 25, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    My experiences with the NHS have been mixed but overall reasonably positive. My only hospital stay, about three years ago was four days longer than it needed to be due to the fact that I was having daily injections of anti-biotics and it was apparently too difficult to arrange for me to have these as an out patient at my local surgery. When I was finally discharged it took a whole day to get it organised. Mild inconvenience for me but totally inefficient and wasteful. The service at the local surgery is excellent so that proves that it can be done. Like Mona, I have dealt with my condition, type 2 diabetes, by buffing up on the condition via books and the internet and dealing with it using diet and exercise. I now have no medication and just have six monthly check ups.

  7. Andrew Duffin
    May 25, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    “The NHS doesn’t view patients as customers.”

    Exactly that.

    Remember “if you’re not paying, you’re not the customer”?

    The customer in this case is the state bureaucrat who hands over the money. You can bet your life that the doctors return THEIR calls promptly.

  8. Andrew Duffin
    May 25, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    And as for “cuts” (of which there have been none in the Health Service of course), an old boss of mine used to constantly emphasise this:

    “Old System + More Money = Expensive Old System”

    which is a pretty good description of the nhs when you think about it.

  9. Henry Kaye
    May 26, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    I think that the complaints about treatment (or lack of it) received from the NHS would be almost limitless. My own treatment has been somewhat varied. When I first came back to this country to retire after many years living and working abroad, my small experience was quite good but in more recent years when age began to take its toll my experience has been frustrating to say the least. I won’t go into details but I have to say that when I lived abroad and was covered by private health insurance the treatment I received (and that received in later years by my late son-in-law) was beyond reproach. It’s impossible for the average individual to pinpoint what is wrong but the general view seems to be that something is definitely wrong – and the people charged with dealing with it are seemingly incapable.

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