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?"

Him: Silence

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.

As if.


Joe Public said...

And now the Good News (or Bad?).....

At least the results of their testing prove conclusively you're not pregnant!


Dramfineday said...

Steady SR or I'll bore you all to death with what happened to my mother, breast cancer, and my father, circulation failure of the foot. Write a book? More like a library.

Keep calm Rosie and keep well.

Hamish said...

Chin up, lassie.
We here on the blog know how you feel, but you did give the young medics at the hospital a bit of a tongue-lashing.
A good doctor would pick up that behind the bravado you are quite worried about your condition.

I applaud you for ignoring the mantra "keep taking the tablets".
I wish I had the courage to do the same. My life was saved by the NHS here in Edinburgh 15 years ago. I feel it would be impolite or ungrateful if I stopped taking the pills they prescribed.

I'm not a medic, but my prognosis is you'll be here to inform entertain irritate us for many years to come.

RMcGeddon said...

Never mind SR. In a few years you will be able to chat to them on skype instead ;)

RMcGeddon said...

Oh and I'm sorry but I think ASE has blown a fuse over at your skype post lol
I seem to have that effect on people these days. Sigh.
I deleted my final comment to him as it might have fallen outside of your terms and conditions.

Leg-iron said...

So the consultant can offer only a made-up number as a cure? It's witchcraft for sure.

I suppose the reticence to tackle C. difficile could be explained by their knowledge that it's brought on by antibiotics, cured with harder antibiotics and all that leaves the gut in a bit of a mess. No medic wants to admit 'yeah, sorry, we did that'.

But fobbing people off with 'It's your fault for not eating enough fruit' is shameful.

Apogee said...

Hi SR.I can see you have had a fun filled day,not.no further forward than you were before.Look at it this way, the sherry will do a lot less damage than the pollutants they and big Pharma would like us to swallow.

subrosa said...

Jings Joe, I'm not that daft. I learned to keep the pill between my knees years ago. :)

subrosa said...

Auch Dram, I'm just angry at the waste of public money in situations such as this. I did my best to find out why I was recalled and got nowhere.

After one of my tests I had a very comprehensive printout of the result. I didn't need to waste half a day to have it read to me while others, far less fortunate and in desperate need of help from the experts, have to wait longer for their consultation.

subrosa said...

Aye I'm very fortunate I don't have to take pills Hamish, because most of my pals have to take something regularly.

I did give him a tongue-lashing because I had gone to the effort of trying to find out why I was being recalled but got nowhere.

To be honest I wasn't worried about my condition, because having coped with it for over 3 years now, I've kind of become used to it, but I was worried something more serious may have been found.

Why recall patients for no reason other than to mark on my record that they've seen me alive and kicking? Seems downright stupid.

subrosa said...

RM, Skyping would have saved me 3 hours of my time, £1.70 in parking and a few quid in diesel.

It would have saved the NHS £hundreds I suspect considering the amount of admin etc involved in any medical consultation.

subrosa said...

RM, ASE never blows a fuse. He's perhaps the calmest person I know about helping fools like me with technology.

Shame you deleted your comment. My 'terms and conditions' are fairly liberal. You should know that by now. :)

subrosa said...

No cure LI but it looks good from the NHS's stance if they can record their 'interest' in the result of their negligence.

Aye, when he started asking how much fruit and veg I ate I just shook my head in amazement. :)

I've had a back-handed apology from the NHS about the old system of dishing out antibiotics to anyone who has had any form of invasive procedure. Seemingly that's stopped now.

subrosa said...

Fun-filled indeed Apogee. At least I learned a little about how Dundee council are going to spend more of their council taxpayer's money though. They're going to dig up the town centre once again.

Interesting what you hear in hospital waiting rooms. :)

petem130 said...

Great post!

I've noticed that anyone working for the government or in a position of some power over us mere mortals all act or react in the same way.

If you don't do or say exactly what they want you to they change completely and become veryu aloof and agressive. We pay their salaries it is us not them who are entitled to seek what we want in a reasonable manner.

It also never fails to amaze me that all these so called clever people repeat stuff, like 5 a day, the earth is warming etc. etc. without using their cleverness to check that the facts they have been given are indeed fact.

As I said great post. More copmplaining by us all required.

JRB said...

Of course!!!

It must have been the traces of myrosin and sinalbin from the mustard with perhaps a hint of curcumin frum the turmeric, all of which go to make up Colemans.

This little cocktail of chemicals in your sample will have sent their testing apparatus into a total tiswas.

Lord knows what you will be diagnosed with now. They’re probably writing a medical paper about you as we type.


subrosa said...

He was completed flummoxed when I asked the definition of a portion petem. Was one tomato a portion I asked. Possibly, was the eventual reply.

If the preachers don't know the score then why should we listen?

subrosa said...

He he JRB. :) At least that wouldn't be such a waste of money because they could sell it to Colmans' competitors.

Anon said...

I suffer from Grumpy Convent Schoolgirl Syndrome - caused by sitting too long at the computer and worrying too much about Libya.

My doctor recommended more porridge and more exercise.

- Aangirfan

subrosa said...

So you're getting more exercise making porridge Aangirfan? :)

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