I had an appointment this afternoon, with the rheumatology nurse specialist. I was a bit confused when I got the letter as, like I'd said when I was at freak clinic, I was fairly sure I'd met my rheumatologist once (not the extra special bendy people rheumatologist in Leeds) but I knew I'd never met a rheumatology nurse specialist. That I would have remembered. Still, I've long since decided it makes for an easier life not to try to argue with NHS letters, so this afternoon I went along to my local NHS hospital.
First I spent the best part of half an hour desperately circling the car park looking for a space along with every other car unable to find a space. The disabled spaces were particularly difficult to find, many I noticed being occupied by extremely expensive, top of the range new model cars without blue badges. Eventually I was able to park after just waiting by the disabled bays for around 10 minutes until someone left. This though is the same hospital that blocked off all bar one of its disabled bays outside the physio unit for several months last year.
I went to visit one of my neighbours before going to my appointment. She had an operation this morning, was full of praise for how wonderful the staff were. They did seem to be, lots and lots, of friendly, nice nurses standing around. My neighbour was in an 8 bedded bay. There were 5 empty beds. As the wind whistled outside, the windows rattled and I could smell the faintest hint of cigarettes from the mothers to be smoking below.
When I arrived in outpatients I found it was very busy. Nothing like the well staffed, half empty surgical ward my neighbour was on. This was packed out. Running late. I was reassured by the receptionist it wouldn't take too long as I was seeing the nurse specialist. Not too long turned out to be around 30 minutes. It wasn't. I remember orthopaedic clinics where not too long was 3 hours.
The nurse specialist was honest. Management of chronic conditions isn't a priority for the government. We're supposed to be looked after by our GP's. Diagnosed. Treated. Discharged. No matter how unstable the condition. Just hope you're one of those lucky enough to have a good GP. For those of us who need long term looking after this is it. No bright shiny wards with patientline and named nurses for me. Just an overworked nurse specialist, kind, caring, good at her job and unable to do it properly. To use this government's NHS I have to have something that can be fixed, put in one of their beloved boxes, ticked off and filed away. Like most of us who's need is most, I don't.