The independent London newspaper

The National Health Service has not been there for me

04 September, 2020

‘The question: ‘what happened to the NHS?’ lingers’

• LIKE your unnamed correspondent, (NHS is not there for you, August 21) the National Health Service has not been there for me.

And I have little faith in my health centre since the new “phone-triage” system was installed. Receptionists with no medical training decide on who is have a face-to-face consultation.

Although my GP told me to make such an appointment with him in two weeks, a receptionist would not allow it. It all depends on their moods, I suppose.

A hospital follow-up appointment has been cancelled four times after a malignant melanoma excision two years ago.

I noticed a lump on my neck three months ago and asked my GP what it might be. He said I needed a scan and would arrange it, but the organisation in question stated: “we are not taking any new referrals”.

As I like specialist hospitals I asked to be referred to one. My GP did so and eventually I received an appointment.

However I was told at my first appointment I could not have a scan until I had a naseloscopy which entailed having a small camera pushed up my nose.

The doctor proceeded to perform one but it was so painful that I called out for him to stop. He did not do so.

I wanted to run but was afraid to move because I was attached to a machine. At last it was over and I was informed nothing had been found during the procedure.

Then I received a letter offering me an appointment in another 10 days. Despite the early start I was there on time and waited half an hour, time to think I was in the right place. What could possibly go wrong?

The consultant was dictating a letter into a machine and did not acknowledge me when I entered the room.

I changed into a hospital gown, as requested by an assistant, then the consultant told me to get onto the examination table and she proceeded to apply a cold gel around my ears and neck, while I looked at a screen.

“Don’t look at that,” she reprimanded me, in the voice a strict parent would use towards a naughty child. The gell application became brisker, and painful.

“Where’s this lump on your neck? I can’t see it,” she said, ordering me to look left, then right, which I did.

“I’d stick a needle in but I can’t see it.” She raised her voice and sounded annoyed.

“Have you read my GP’s letter?” I ventured. “No. Sit up,” she shouted. I obeyed.

“I can’t see it, I’d stick a needle in if I could see it,” she repeated in a voice that challenged disagreement.

I wished she would use the term biopsy, but didn’t dare say so. “You may get dressed,” she ordered, and I did so feeling relieved.

Last but not least the podiatry service stopped six months ago and I was told to “ask a relative” to cut my toenails.

I said I was referred because I have no relatives and was advised: “file your nails”, which doesn’t work because I’m unable to make repetitive movements due to arthritis.

My toenails get longer and the lump on my neck appears bigger and I keep trying to get through to the health centre to ask my GP if I can have a second opinion.

However I haven’t been able to get past an automated voice telling me to book online, which doesn’t help because that part of my laptop isn’t available.

The system is there to discourage patients from getting the help they need and I’ve given up.

Might try again some other time, meanwhile I just wait. What choice? Perhaps I’m waiting better!

I try to get on with my life, but the question: “what happened to the NHS?” lingers.

AT, N1


Share this story

Post a comment