Tuesday, 30 August 2011
How the NHS Wastes Resources
A few weeks ago I had some tests relating to the problems I developed since contracting c.difficile in a local hospital three years ago.
After these tests I was sent a letter asking me to report to the specialist's clinic and that was this morning. Wondering what this was about I was able to speak to my GP by telephone and she mentioned she would not receive the results of the biopsies taken and suggested I attended.
In the letter I was instructed to take a sample of urine and a list of medication.
Off I set, complete with 'day' makeup (I'd no desire to frighten anyone too much), plus a sterilised jar of Colmans mustard with it's required content.
Bang on time I was summoned by a nurse and asked for my specimen. My comment about the container giving a bit of zest to the result wasn't appreciated and I decided to ask why the analysis was necessary. The nurse proceeded to read off from a chart all the tests to which my pee would be subjected. Jing, I felt so ignorant, but not to be defeated, when she slipped her 'stick' into a machine which obviously analysed it with an immediate print out, I suggested I could have a copy for my health diary; something I don't possess. The atmosphere changed from frosty to freezing and I accepted her instruction to 'sit round the corner and you will be called shortly'.
I was and by a young (everyone's so young these days) Irish medic. He reiterated the report I had been given immediately after the tests some weeks ago. Then he proceeded to ask me about my diet. I'm paraphrasing slightly.
Him:"How many portions of fruit and vegetables do you have a day?"
Me:"Can you define a portion please?"
Him:" Well..." long pause
Me: " Is it a teaspoonful, a soup spoonful, a table spoonful, a plate full or what?
Him: "Perhaps slightly more than a soup spoonful"
Me: "So a tomato isn't accepted as a portion?"
Him: "Of course it is. Why are you not answering my question about your fruit and vegetable intake?"
Me: "I'm trying to do exactly that but I need to know how you define the word portion. I eat little fruit, with the exception of soft fruit, because most of it sold here is overpriced and far too unripe. I can keep oranges bought in supermarkets for 6 months in a fruit bowl and the skins barely perish. Apples don't like me unless I juice them and I do that regularly with carrot."
Him: (totally with a rather smug grin) : Ah, so you don't eat fruit. Well gut problems require an intake of at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day."
Me: "I eat so much veg it's a wonder my skin's not green. In fact I'm possibly more vegetarian than many of those who say they're vegetarian. Also I listen to my body. It creaks and creaks badly at times but I'm angry at your department recalling me after giving me a print out of my recent tests. I have been concerned for the past weeks as I'd discussed the print out results with my GP, yet I suspect she thought, as I did, that the biopsies may show something life-threatening. Do you know how much of my time and yours we're wasting when you could be seeing to folk who are in a life or death situation?"
Him (aghast): "We recall most patents. I note you refused to give my nurse a list of medication you take."
Me: "That's because I take no medication other than the odd paracetemol."
Him: "Few over 65 year olds don't take regular medication. What more can I say. Your diet is as we suggest..."
Me" "Can I leave now please? We really are wasting time and money when others deserve the expertise of your area of excellence. Why should over 65 year olds be pumped full of chemicals which just may shorten their lives and make them miserable into the bargain?"
All that took around five minutes. My anger is not pointed at the young doctor because he was only doing what he was told, but I realised within a minute that someone with life-threatening intestinal problems will have been denied five minutes of a specialist's time. The medics blame the problems I've had since c.difficile on a hereditary problem. So, so easy isn't it?
Oh, once again, during my-very-expensive-taxpayer-paid consultation I suggested the doctor would see that I had be diagnosed with a particular problem relating to my intestines if he had had my full medical history to hand. "It's up to date," I was told, as he thrust a plastic wallet at me, to go for a series of blood tests because "We haven't had any since 2008. The department is on the corridor as you leave," he exuded.
Why I missed the signs to the blood test department I have to put down to the fact that I only wear glasses for driving and watching the odd television programme of interest.
Tomorrow I'll be making a face-to-face appointment with my GP and I will give her my evaluation of today's experience. She may have the results of other tests but maybe she'll be reluctant to say I've more sherry than blood streaming through my veins.