Friday, October 19, 2007
It occurred to me some time back to photograph all the items I receive on prescription so people could see an example of the typical routine work of the NHS. As I've mentioned before I have to order all the items I need at the pharmacy, who then take the prescriptions to my GP's practice for me, and collect them again so that in theory I only have to go back to the pharmacy to collect the filled prescription. In theory. In practice what tends to happen is that like today I go to the pharmacy and some of the items will be there but despite having been ticked on the prescription refills, double checked by the pharmacist and pointed out to the receptionists at the GP practice by the very experienced pharmacy technician who is well used to managing my medication the painkillers I take which are controlled drugs will inevitably be missing. Sometimes this is because a prescription for controlled drugs has to be filled in by hand and therefore takes longer than other items, but usually for some reason we've never discovered it seems to be forgotten and so requires multiple trips to chase it up every month. I once worked out that I must spend around 4 hours every month chasing up medication which whilst I'm not working is no more than a drag but when I did work, even though it was only part time caused huge problems trying to organise all this.
I went to my GP practice after I'd been to the pharmacy to collect the letters I need to fly, but when I checked them although the attached list of medication was accurate the dosage of medication written in the letter was incorrect, probably a typing error. I wasn't sure whether this would be a problem or not, but the receptionist felt it would be better for it to be altered rather than the airline having a problem with it and refusing to allow me to take vital medication on to the plane. I know this is a security requirement for the airlines but I can't help feeling this just puts additional pressures on GP's already overburdened with paperwork, particularly when there doesn't seem to be any clear guidance on what is and isn't needed. A copy of my prescriptions isn't adequate, but we couldn't find any details on what needed to be in the letter. As I'm flying twice, we also couldn't find out whether I could take a photocopy of a letter for the second flight so my GP has written two separate letters addressed to each airline and now both of these need altering. Work like this is not within the GP contract and I feel the £10 I'm being charged for this is more than generous.
Whilst I was at the surgery I also re-ordered the prescription for my painkillers as it simply hadn't gone through on the system, and was made an appointment for next week with my own GP. I've had a minor fungal infection on my back for weeks which has got worse instead of better with the shampoo the pharmacist gave me to treat it. I suspect that the real problem is that I've tried to wash my back with one of those long handled brush things and as my skin is fragile I've actually managed to cut and graze the whole of my back.
This is the kind of routine work that GP's, practice nurses, pharmacists and all sorts of other vital members of the NHS do all day every day and although as I've highlighted there are problems with the system, really they are minor administrative problems which could be easily sorted out. For all it's problems the NHS is something we should be proud of in this country, it provides vital medication for millions of people every day who in other countries would not be able to access such privileges as regular, routine, free prescriptions and access to their own GP within days for minor problems.