Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2010 not 1910

As the snow slowly melts away, my sanity slips back into place. It's at best tenuous but it is at least a start. Yesterday I made it outside, only for a few minutes, and not without a few scary near misses but the beauty of the frozen beach soothed my soul. Today an hour with girlfriends was calming despite the caffeine and emotional angst of the topics of conversation.

When I saw LC just before Xmas I was not doing well physically. I'd managed to get the Oxycontin down to 10mg td* but it was at great cost to both me and my blood pressure, so I was instructed to increase the Oxycontin back up whilst waiting for an urgent referral to the pain management consultant. LC, being an experienced consultant, wise to the bureaucratically bound ways of the NHS, actually phoned the pain management consultant during the appointment and dictated the letter there and then as well as ensuring the dictation tape went to the right place. As he said, otherwise it could be weeks before the letter was even typed up.

Although politicians seem determined to ignore doctors and nurses, they do tend to know a thing or two about where the real problems lie within the NHS.

So, I duly increased the Oxycontin and hoped it would absorb. I also unearthed some very out of date Zofran in my medication box and took them for a few days. Fortunately they seemed to do the trick and gave me enough of a break from the vomiting to eat some Christmas dinner. Over the holiday period I increased the Oxycontin up to 20mg td, and although the withdrawal symptoms didn't go they slowed down to a point allowing me to gradually get more rest. The cold weather caused such a massive increase in pain that I increased the nighttime dosage by another 10mg to where it is now at 20mg, 20mg, 30mg. With all the disruption caused by the weather I knew the referral would be delayed so waited until this week to start chasing it up.

The pain clinic told me they had no trace of any referral. The very helpful secretary I managed to speak to in rheumatology, which is based at a different hospital site to the pain clinic, initially advised me that the referral was yet to be typed and would be at least another week until it was. A further phone call unearthed the referral, which had been typed and posted before the christmas break. Yet another phone call, equipped with this knowledge, finally managed to unearth the referral sitting on the consultant's desk, and that it'll be at least a week before it is looked at and the consultant decides whether or not he'll see me.**

Politicians are constantly harping on about the value of the NHS and how determined they are to dismantle it and sell the parts to their money grubbing matessave it. Literally billions of pounds have been thrown at the doomed NHS IT project. It's 2010. 2010, not 1910. This one referral has taken 3 weeks to be typed, posted, received, opened and delivered to the right desk in a different hospital which is part of the same overall trust. Billions of pounds on IT, yet no decent system of email. That's before the consultant makes a decision to see the patient, at which point the referral goes back into the system, gets (I assume) posted to the Choose and Book team, who will then contact the patient to make an appointment. All this is for a referral classed as urgent.

Aside from the billions wasted on not fit for purpose IT, there are huge knock on costs to the welfare state while patients waiting for the bureaucracy to follow them around the system are forced to take time off work and claim benefits.





*td-3 times a day
**This bit strikes fear into my heart due to all the problems I had prior to being diagnosed.




5 comments:

alhi said...

I feel slightly ashamed now at my whinging.

I too have experienced so-called urgent referrals. It took Drs 2 years to realise that the swollen knee I was complaining about on a periodic basis was actually referred pain from my hip. My consultant finally realised on the 23rd Dec 1999 and I remember sliding down the wall in shock while he told me and my parents. At the time I was in my 3rd year of uni on an erasmus year in Belgium and was home for the holidays. He told me not to go back until I had seen the ortho surgeon. What followed was the urgent referral, based upon my studies rather than strict need, I should admit. I finally saw the surgeon in April having sat at home since December. I got an MRI scan in super quick time because my mother happened to phone and ask about the waiting list on a snowy day and there had been a cancellation for that afternoon which they had been unable to fill. On the whole I can't fault my treatment on the NHS: my rheumatologist phoned on Christmas eve after breaking the news to see how I was. He phoned at least twice between January and the eventual April appointment with the surgeon to see if I had heard anything. In the event with the April appointment I ended up seeing a knob of a surgeon who I detested instead of the one I was referred to. I saw him twice before refusing to go again and that's when I ended up under the one who operated on me: hubby of my lovely GP (who unfortunately is so popular it's impossible to see her for immediate problems, as I have found out recently!).

Anyways, I hijacked this thread. Hope you're feeling a bit brighter now and that you'll continue getting out a bit more.

take care of yourself.

Fire Byrd said...

It is frightening how much money is wasted in the NHS. The workers on the front line are doing a great job on the whole but the bungling from above and the petty outmoded ways of communicating make it look like a third world service.
Glad you managed to get out. I tried this morning to walk Trix only just got across the road but the ice defeated me, poor dog! but my bones intact!
xx

steph said...

Bendy,

You sound extremely sane to me in the way you've managed your medication while awaiting help.

The poor system of communication in the NHS sounds horribly like the Irish health service. I tried to change an out-patient appointment recently and it only took 3 days and about 9 phone calls before I could get anyone to take any responsibility for the clinic's appointment list!

I really hope the NHS can come up trumps with an appointment to see the pain management consultant pronto.

Hang in there!

Mr. Nighttime said...

Bendy - I am truly hoping you can find a way through this, and it sounds as though the NHS bureaucracy is about as thick as HMO/insurance bureaucracy is here. Is there no supervisory or management team that you can escalate all this to?

Mary said...

Hi,

This is the assistant editor for Hospital.com which is a medical publication offering hospital news, information and reviews. We also cover a wide variety of medical issues, one of which being Pain Management. You will notice one of the many articles on this topic on our homepage. If possible I would like Hospital.com to be included within your blog roll, offering our information as a resource to your readers. Please let me know if this addition can be made.

Please email me back with your URL in subject line to take a step ahead and to avoid spam.

Thank you
Mary Miller,
may.hospital.com@gmail.com