I was chatting with the district nurse this morning about an issue I had with a prescription Adam had phoned into the doctors on Monday, she confirmed my belief, I am totally invisible to the NHS. Adam had phoned in the prescription as he always does, and as is perfectly normal, we heard nothing until Thursday evening, when chemist delivered the oversized bag filled with meds. Amongst it, there was a blank prescription sheet with what was clearly a doctor’s writing across the top. I said clearly, but it was the very fact that it was almost illegible, that gave away the origin of the note. We could make out that it had something to do with the potassium tablet that I take, helped by the bigger clue, they were missing from the order. Adam phoned the chemist and they apologised as they had meant to decipher it for us before putting it into the bag. Apparently, the doctor wanted me to have a blood test, before issuing any more of this drug. It didn’t quite make sense, as if my doctor had wanted me to have a blood test, he would have just asked the district nurse to carry it out, as he knows they are here three times a week. Perplexed, there was nothing more I could do until the morning, doctors not being at work in the evening. I wasn’t just confused, I was also concerned, as I had taken the last of that particular medication that morning, not worrying at all about missing the lunchtime dose, as I knew they would be here that evening, but now I had missed two and god knows how long the test would take, then for the prescription to be written up and filled.
This morning I phoned and spoke to my GP, he confirmed what the note had said and after a moment’s thought agreed with it. It hadn’t been written by him, but another member of the practice, who doesn’t know me and doesn’t know that I’m housebound and that I wouldn’t see it on the day she wrote it. He told me not to worry about not having them for a couple of days, and he would ask the nurse to take my blood today. This is far from the first time, that something has gone wrong in the communication between GP’s, District Nurses, and hospitals, due to there being nothing what so ever, without reading my notes in detail, to know that I am housebound. While the nurse was hunting for my vein, I asked her a question. “Is there no way that it can be added to the notes of people like me, somewhere that it is clear for all doctors and nurses to see, that a patient is housebound, so things like this don’t happen?” She smiled and said that I was far from the first to ask and in fact, her boss had asked that exact same question many times. I am not the first person to have been caught in one of these “misunderstandings” and I, personally, have experienced it at least twice before. She told me that details like that, are missed all the time and there are thousands of patients, just in Glasgow alone who are housebound, admittedly, most are elderly, but like me, not all. It has, and can cause huge problems, but to date, nothing has been done about it.
To me, that is yet again another sign that we are truly invisible, not just to the outside world, but even within the medical one as well. How can it be that something as simple as adding a code, or even a separate field beside our names, so that all concerned know and can then treat us, in that knowledge? I’m not a doctor, but to me, I can see with ease why it could be incredibly important to know at a glance, that not only is a patient housebound, but also currently in the care of the district nurses. Not only could this save time and money, it could ultimately save lives.
As we talked she told me that she had completed and faxed the form over to Westmark, with regards to my needing an electric wheelchair. They phoned her straight back and explained that my file had been closed a few years ago and that she would need to fill in a different form, for a fresh referral to them. Once again NHS madness. The new from included details of my medical condition and so on, all information that they still had in the so-called closed file. Not only is it there, but it is also right in front of them, on the same system, the nurse would be taking the details from. Shear time wasting and money wasting, but without it, no new chair. She told me that a large part of her day is now spent filling in forms, forms that serve no purpose, other than keeping someone employed designing them. The NHS screams constantly that it is short of money, well let start by taking out all the duplication of work that appears to be going on daily. A referral needs nothing other than the patient’s name, CHI number and what they are being referred for, ie wheelchair. Job done. The rest is there on the system, or should be part of the assessment. GP’s and nurses should be spending their time with patients, not filling in constant forms, or worse still, writing letters about what is there to be read off a screen. Just think, they could save millions of trees as well.
I know that I have time on my hands these days, but I can’t be the only person who looks at all of this and says, “Hold on, this can be done better.” In the past, I know I have suggested both in my blog, and when talking to actual doctors, of using phone calls and Skype for consultations that don’t require physical tests and examinations. Time and money saved, they are quicker, require less hospital transport, (ambulance, driver, attendant and costly stair climbers) for people like me. All savings for the NHS, and importantly less stressful and tiring for the patient. Yet, people like me, the actual patient, can’t get ourselves heard, because we are housebound. If we could get out, I could join in one of the hundreds of forums running across the country, all about improving patient care, but we aren’t heard, because we can’t get there. We are invisible and there is nothing we can do about it. Our care will never improve, because we aren’t only invisible, they can’t even hear us either.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 10/09/2014 – On the lighter side
Breakfast over and time to write, it was an odd breakfast this morning, in fact, I don’t know what made me even think of having fried halloumi on rice cakes, but that was what I had, well it’s a change from porridge I suppose. I bought the halloumi to try as I had never had it but I knew it was a cheese that you can fry or grill on its own, I had tried grilling cheese onto a rice cake but it did exactly what I…..