I am a strong advocate if the National Health Service (mainly because it has kept me alive this long), however last weekend my patience was tested to the limit. It was not a one off either. This is the second time something like this has happened.
Wales played Australia on Saturday in what I have come to believe is now just a ceremonial display of the same game of rugby replaying itself over and over again, and we actually pay money to endure this misery. As I walked through the front door, I was greeted with the ever familiar postmark of my local health board. I was actually quite excited as I was waiting for an MRI scan date as part of brain surgery investigations, exciting stuff. So I opened the letter. But all was not was not as it first appeared. Not so exciting stuff.
I did recognise the letter as it is a format that I come across in work. It was a failure to attend letter. This is where I started to smell a rat, mainly because in order to warrant receipt of a letter such as this. I would have needed to have received and appointment on the first place, which I didn’t. I had been waiting for the letter for MONTHS and MONTHS so as you can imagine my surprise when I saw the you are no longer invited to my party, letter it came as quite a shock.
Following my steaming hell rage I read the letter in its entirety and established that, there was no accountability being taken for the letter. As it wanted me to go back to the Dr that referred me in order to correct their mistake. I thought on this for a moment, and was somewhat unsatisfied. I then thought, maybe I can improve on their procedures… If I made a mess in your house (lets say at a party), how would you feel if I said, yes, in order to fix this you need to get the guy in charge of organising the entertainment to clean it up. As you can imagine, he would not be happy with this, and the home owner would be somewhat bemused by the arrangement.
So I called the Radiography department. Not my Dr (it’s not’s their mess to clean up).
Firstly, I found out that the phone number on the top of the letter was for the WRONG department…. Brilliant, smoke and mirrors. Luckily a helpful person gave me a bundle of numbers to call if I didn’t have any luck. I still have these numbers :).
When I got through to them, they were very helpful. However, something screamed MANAGEMENT FAILURE. The lady I spoke to told me a number of letters had gone missing. These were not acted on, however they did send out the failure to attend letters for those appointments, and push the people who had been waiting months to the bottom of the queue as well as make their figures look swell. This an incredibly cynical statement and may be wildly inaccurate when applied to waiting lists (please excuse my imagination making ideal world statistics, if this is the case). But it is accurate in representing how I felt at the time. The fact remains that the the letters were never sent, and that then becomes the patients worry. As if we haven’t got enough to worry about.
Incidentally, I wanted an appointment so I did’t say any of these things. My appointment was very quickly remade, however I do not like how administrative decisions could drastically impact clinical decisions and timing.
The moral of the story, go route 1. Go back to the place who wrote to you. Try not to let them move you on or back, especially if they made the mistake.
I had my scan last night. Which like always was handled with military precision and world class care. It’s as if the NHS functions despite the horrendously flabby layers that have been put upon it. Well done NHS. :) You still nailed it, but just send letters properly.