When Adam called me yesterday at lunch time, there was something in the tone of his voice, that told me there was something wrong. The other day when he was at home there had been one of those automated phone calls to remind us that I have a hospital appointment next week. It turned out that Adam hadn’t booked the transport, despite my telling him when he took the responsibility over from me, that he had to book it as soon as he was aware of the appointment being made. As always, I couldn’t remember why it was important, and he was determined to do things his way. Yesterday, he called to book not just the ambulance for next week chest clinic appointment, but also the one for two weeks later at the breast screening clinic. He was stunned to find out, that there was no transport available, for either date. In fact, there is no transport available until the beginning of April. When I had gone over the system, explaining that you have to book early, my brain did it’s usual, it totally blocked out the reason why, all I could say, was that was the way it had to be done. It was about twenty minutes after he called, that I remembered, this happened once before, several years ago. It is one of my brains favourite tricks, I know all the rules, all they things that have to be done a certain way, but why? Well, don’t ask me, I don’t have the first idea, just the knowledge. At that time, just like this, we have been forced into rearranging the appointment, because, without the ambulance and their stairclimber, we can’t get there.
My chest consultant asked when I thought I should go back to see them. I said six months, but he wanted to see me in just four. There was an issue with the first booking, again with the transport, if you aren’t there first thing, you don’t get home for hours, often late into the evening, as it wasn’t a morning appointment, we had to change it. It was moved by two weeks, which on its own, is not that bad really. Now after speaking to the booking clerks, Adam has managed to book it and the transport, for the 4th of April. We were lucky, getting an appointment that close, it was only because there had been a cancellation. He is sorting out the other appointment this morning, but I just had a phone call from the ambulance service, cancelling the 4th of April transport and telling me, there is no space until after the 7th. Unbelievably, the “Hospital transport service”, as they like to call themselves, are now running the NHS, for those of us who are disabled. Adam is now going to have to go back to square one, and rebook everything. No matter what dates he manages to arrange, it’s beginning to look as though it will be six months between my appointments, not four.
This of course also throws up other issues, ones that must cost the NHS a fortune each year. How many appointments are cancelled each year, due to this problem, meaning doctors time being wasted and waiting lists just getting longer and longer? They spend money every day paying for staff to sit and make appointments and to manage individual consultants lists. No matter how proficient they are, if the transport service forces appointments to be cancelled, there will be gaps, points when wages are paid for doctors and nurses to be ready to treat patients, that is not being used. Every time an appointment is shuffled, it just makes those list artificially appear longer. Targets will be missed and all due to transport, not the medical service.
I find the whole thing unbelievable. If anyone wanted proof, that they system isn’t working, well here it is. What happens, if you consultant wants you to return in a week, or two weeks? What if it was essential for that appointment to be then, due to treatment plans? Would they just leave you at home to die, as without a doubt, this sort of service if it’s allowed to continue, will result in just that. It could also result in patients who could easily be treated as an outpatient, having to take up a hospital bed, something that is in short supply these days. Bed blocking, is constantly blamed on the care service not being up to the job. I bet if it were possible to investigate, there are people who are in this exact position right now, sitting in a bed, twiddling their thumbs. I said the other day, that the housebound and severely disabled receive a second class service, well, I’m changing that, we get a third or fourth class service if that.
I asked Adam to take over the arranging of hospital appointments and the transport, not only because, I find the phone hard to deal with, but I also found the system frustrating, even when it worked in their version of perfect. Just hearing all of this second hand is already stressing me, so I feel sorry for Adam. I feel even sorrier for other carers as Adam works for the NHS, in the very hospital where I go for the bulk of my appointments. He knows the system, not only the system but all the people who work in it, so it has to be easier for him than it is for those other carers out there. All he has to do is walk down the corridor to the very clinic and have a chat with the receptionist. He can, in fact, check the computer himself, so he knows exactly how the lists look and he can stand there looking at it, while he talks to the transport service. Everyone else, can only book an appointment, cross their fingers and try and book the transport. How long is it going to take, for the NHS to realise that their system is not suitable for purpose?
I was on the verge of publishing this when the phone rang. It was Adam, he just wanted to let me know that it is all sorted, well for the chest clinic anyway. We have both appointment and transport now booked for the 25th of April. As for the breast screening clinic, well the girl on the desk couldn’t give him a date over the phone, and will be posting it out to us.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 10/03/2014 – Lost and in pain
I’m not here today. I don’t know where I am but I just know that I don’t feel connected to myself, somehow lost. I know in the last few months this has happened several times, but I will never get used to it, I guess it is as close to one of my ultimate fears as I ever want to get, my mind so taken over by drugs that I can’t find myself. I don’t blame the drugs for this because if it were them, well I…….
Wow, you know the Americans always speak so longingly for Socialized Medicine – even go so far as sneaking across the border for doctor’s appointments. I think it’s critical that you continue to exposed the underbelly of “free” healthcare. Sounds like your Adam is quite the amazing man. What would we do without them?
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Unfortunately, being free is an illusion, we do pay through our taxes, but even that is clearly not enough, when it comes to the care we need. It all to often turns out to be a glossy vainer. Although, I do have to say, when you reach the actual doctors, the care they give is excellent. Even they are exasperated by the realities of a system that can’t cope. 😦
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Thank you for understanding how hard it can be on a caregiver to do these things.
My husband has to make appts for me. Luckily he can take me to them, he works flex hours for this reason. But getting things done on the phone during business hours when he trying to work normal hours. He does do that unless I have appts.
I couldn’t use that system, I often have 2 appts a week. Right now I have PT every week, I couldn’t see that happening.
Here we have a transport system that is not an ambulance that has a lift, you do need to book a week ahead, that’s just how it is with them. But months. That’s crazy.
You knew there was a reason to book it so far ahead of time, why shouldn’t matter. It needs to be done that way, you didn’t forget the most important part.
Always my best to you.
As I said though Adam hasn’t had problems until this time. He has booked all previous transports just days in advance, without any issues. There isn’t a rule or anything like that, it’s just they are full. There are no slots available what ever your reason for being there.
We’re so lucky to have our men, life would be a million times harder without them.
Take care 🙂
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This is very interesting! We here in America have similar problems even though our systems are different. Transportation here often sets us back in reaching our doctor’s appointments and when it’s a specialist in high demand it can add months to our diagnostic or treatment waiting time. It seems that this really has less to do with whether there’s enough money and more to do with standards and enforcement.
I was just talking to a guy this afternoon with a transportation company who told me that the other guy I mentioned in one of my blog entries who sleeps on the job is still employed by the company because his boss doesn’t set any limits with him.
Here we have a broker system that books people with private contractors and they too often put up with second and 3rd rate transportation services who don’t maintain their vans, run routinely late, are rude to patients, etc. so the core of the problem seems to be that those in power (at all levels of service delivery don’t think us shut-ins (many of us low income) important enough to demand for us quality service. You can bet that if it were their mothers getting the short end of the stick they’d be on that phone to make sure the proper heads rolled and things got straightened out ASAP.
What fundamentally needs to change is the attitudes toward the disabled by the community at large from one of “it’s someone else’s concern” to “it’s all of our concern” because sooner or later it will be they and their loved ones who will be in our position. It’s either sooner or later.
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I was going to comment saying I didn’t think we (USA) had transport… But I’d forgotten about all the stuff run by the bus systems. I had no idea how it worked, and it’s sad it’s just as broken.
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It something the able-bodied community seem to miss with ease, the fact that they too, or their loved ones could be just like us, in the blink of an eye. Health has put us here, but equally old age can do just the same thing. It really should be the concern of all.