Disablist Language

4/29/2009 12:14:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 15 Comments

I'm pretty relaxed about the language surrounding disability, feeling that whatever words people choose to describe themselves are to be respected. Even so, every so often I come across the use of a word in a context that appalls me.

Today's example is in a piece written by Paul Sagar over at Liberal Conspiracy. I think it's that which makes it so offensive. Liberal Conspiracy is a blog with an ethos of promoting equality for women, for homosexuals, for black people, brown people and one suspects even green people from the planet Zog.

So to read an article on such a platform which casually refers to 'brain drain mongers' both sickens and disappoints me. Some groups really are more equal than others, even amongst self describing liberals. The worst of it being, it's so ubiquitous that I'll wager Paul Sagar didn't realise he was being offensive and oppressive.


Epilepsy-The Essential Guide

4/28/2009 03:06:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 2 Comments

Released on Friday(May 1st) Epilepsy-The Essential Guide ,written by Louise Bolotin, a Manchester based writer and journalist. Louise was diagnosed with epilepsy in 1997 and found the lack of appropriate information made it more difficult to learn to manage her condition.

As a skilled journalist and researcher Louise realised if she was struggling to find the kinds of readable and accessible information she needed to learn about her condition then others without the benefit of her training might find it impossible. This inspired Louise to write Epilepsy-The Essential Guide covering topics as varied as medication, benefits, pregnancy, self management and everything in between. Much of the information contained in Epilepsy-The Essential Guide will be of use to any person with a chronic health condition, and particularly for those with chronic pain conditions the medication section as the medications used in the treatment of epilepsy are often used to help treat different types of pain.

Louise will be appearing on Heather Stott's show on BBC Radio Manchester immediately after the news at 11am.

It is estimated that 450,000 people in the UK have epilepsy, making it the most common neurological disorder existing. But with the right medication and determination, it is possible to lead a happy and healthy life. This book will guide you through everything you need to know about this frequently misunderstood condition: from diagnosis and the types of treatment available to practical advice on managing epilepsy effectively and coping with it in everyday life. The myths surrounding the condition are dispelled and common questions answered. Benefits, driving, pregnancy, parenthood, education and employment issues are covered, together with information on caring for an epileptic child. Whether you have just been diagnosed with epilepsy, have lived with the condition for some time, or are a parent or teacher wanting to know more, this guide will equip you with all the essential facts.


Born To Be Different

4/28/2009 12:18:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 3 Comments

Shelbie, William, Zoe, Hamish, Emily and Nathan are back on Channel 4 at 9pm tonight in Born To Be Different. It's an intimate portrait of the highs and lows of parenting these special children who just happen to have a disability and are now in their 8th year.
This is one of the best tv programmes featuring disability I've ever seen and I can't recommend it enough, the children are just wonderful!


Hip Popping!

4/26/2009 08:18:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 13 Comments

I'm not entirely sure we've managed to capture the movement, but this is a clip of me popping my hip in and out of it's socket. Be warned, although I think you can't really see anything Fruitrock went quite green!


Bendy Bloggers

4/23/2009 05:28:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 14 Comments

Some time ago I mentioned to fellow blogger Kim that the health issues her daughter Veronica was experiencing might be related to her hypermobility. Veronica has just been diagnosed with Classical Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.

When I was first diagnosed with EDS I made a promise to myself that I would try to use my negative experiences with lack of diagnosis to ensure others with undiagnosed EDS did not have to endure the level of difficulty I did in finding a correct diagnosis. I thought that if by telling my story I could spare just one person from the same it would be worthwhile. I've long since lost count of the number of people who've been diagnosed because they saw this blog, or a comment I left for them, or were fortunate enough to be seen by one of the many excellent doctors and nurses I've been lucky enough to be helped by.

Most people with EDS have at some point been told by their doctors that they were told about EDS in medical school, but told it was such a rare condition they would be unlikely to ever see a patient with it. I'm no statistician but I don't believe 1 in 5000 people to be especially rare, and that the true occurrence is likely to be much higher if diagnosis were made in timely fashion. All doctors, but especially GP's have their 'heart sink' patients who are always appearing with some new symptom or other. I suspect that a fair proportion of these 'heart sink' patients are people with undiagnosed HMS or EDS, and the real shame is that it is incredibly quick and easy to check for with just a few questions and clinical observations. The Beighton scale takes less than two minutes to perfom, and although many hypermobile people can score poorly on the test because it doesn't include the hip or shoulder joints it is still a useful starting point, particularly if combined with the Brighton criteria.

I'm reposting my diagnosis story underneath this post for those who've not yet seen it.

A Question of Chance

Even now I shudder to think what would have happened if I hadn't picked up that particular magazine from in amongst all the discarded old editions of Reader's Digest, National Geographic and The People's Friend. Awful. All piled up on a table in the middle of a room. That and piles of leaflets about chlamydia, diabetes, havingasmear, beingawellman, and do you have bowel cancer? well do you? I will read anything, junk mail and ingredients lists included if desperate enough but I'll always take interesting given the choice. So when I saw something called Arthritis Today I picked it up, thinking maybe there would be something in there I could use to help myself, and so there was, just not in the way I expected there to be.

The reason for my being there that day I've long forgotten, but I'll never forget shaking all over as I read the words printed on the page. Feeling sick, the room spinning away from me as I was completely overwhelmed. As I left I asked if I could copy the magazine article, was told I could keep it, they had finished with it.

Once I arrived home I read through the magazine article, again and again. I was in complete shock. I literally couldn't believe what I was reading...someone else like me. So many similarities. Someone else who'd had multiple operations without success. Someone else who had hips slipping out of their sockets, and wore tight jeans to try to keep them in. Someone else who had been called a hypochondriac. Someone else who had been called a hypochondriac. I knew. I just knew in that moment that I had found what was wrong with me, in a journal that my doctors had supposedly read and then thrown away.

Despite that, however much I knew that this was what had been causing all the problems I'd had all along, I was terrified. Like Catherine Brown, the lady in the article I remembered being told I had growing pains as a child, and being called a hypochondriac, but then, over the years things had become far more serious than that. I lost count of the number of times one doctor or another told me that I had nothing physically wrong with me, only psychological problems, that I needed to see a psychologist, and I never understood why if I must be so terribly disturbed, mentally ill even that not one of them ever made that referral. Once there was a psychiatrist, insisted upon by the GP who later laughed when she asked me if it were better to be physically ill than mad. The psychiatrist told me he thought I was brave, and that he wasn't surprised I was depressed, all things considered, but no, not mad...definitely not mad. Maybe not, but I came very close to losing my mind.

I rapidly found the websites for The Hypermobility Syndrome Association and The Ehlers Danlos Support Group, but I was so afraid I did not even have the courage to ask for advice or support from these incredibly welcoming people. But I read. Everything. I devoured what little information there was on both those websites before I went looking for more and I knew. I just knew.

I was reeling. In a state of shock.

The following day I had a physiotherapy appointment booked. The only person who actually believed I had a physical rather than psychological condition was my (NHS) physiotherapist. Unlike the surgeons who once I'd failed to get better told me it was all in my head, and that there hadn't been anything wrong with me in the first place, screamed in front of a ward of people for good measure, this woman was both a professional and a human being. She also knew me, knew how hard I had worked at any task she had set me to do, and knew how much I wanted to get better. I took the magazine and some printed information along to the one person I trusted, and when I got into the room she had the same magazine in her hand.

We both looked at each other, burst out laughing, within seconds I was crying, sobbing, being given a hug, and tears being shed by her too, this woman who'd worked so hard to help me for so long. Unlike my GP's she'd seen her copy of Arthritis Today, read the article, realised instantly how it applied to me and had a 'lightbulb' moment. Maybe I wasn't mad. Maybe. Maybe? I didn't really dare to hope. She really had done her research and had a plan in mind for me to go to privately to see one of the leading experts in EDS. There were a few reasons for going privately, partly that I was so ill I couldn't wait, but more worryingly that we didn't feel any of the GP's at the practice I was with would have provided a referral, or if they did it would be prejudiced with their opinion of me as had happened previously. The other consideration was that even though instinctively I knew this was right, I was all out of fight. It had been so long, with so many doctors saying I was making things up, I'd lost everything. My career, my job, my friends, my relationships, and very nearly my life. Not even my family believed me.

They were however willing to fund the cost of a private appointment and travel to London, not really knowing what else to do. The appointment was arranged for the following week, and the evening before I had to see my GP. During that appointment I was so terrified by what he said to me that had there still been time I would have cancelled the specialist appointment. I was laughed at, told I was lying because I liked the attention. When I tried to stand up for myself, to explain that my physiotherapist expected me to be diagnosed with EDS, that she had made the referral it provoked further laughter. I was told there was no way I had EDS, that I was not hypermobile, that if I was it would have been diagnosed years before, that I would have had problems previously. When I tried to say I had had problems, I was sneered at and told no, serious problems. As I went to leave, every step on dislocating hips a painful struggle I heard further laughter, and the mocking words 'but I'm willing to be proved wrong'

I was terrified. I thought it must be true because this doctor said so like all the other doctors said so.

I must be wrong.

I knew I wasn't. Not really. But I must be. Because this doctor said so. And so did every other doctor.

Later that evening I had to endure questioning from my mother about what I was going to do if (with that tone of voice that said I mean when but I'll say if for now until I can say I told you so later on) I didn't get a diagnosis the following day. I didn't know what I was going to do if I was wrong about this, if my physiotherapist, the only person I trusted, the only medical professional who believed me was wrong about this. I didn't say it but I thought it would probably be the end if I didn't get diagnosed. I knew I wouldn't be able to withstand the pressure of the 'psychological problems' label, with no support from my family against that, and nothing but gut instinct and a body that didn't work getting worse and worse every day to tell me that I was physically rather than mentally ill, I didn't think things looked good if I didn't get diagnosed. I decided that if that were the case then there would only be one way out.

Fortunately that wasn't necessary. I was diagnosed. I couldn't quite believe it. Too many years of being told it was all in my head. They're used to that, those rather special doctors for us rather special bendy people, but even so what happened to me made them go rather pale.

But this is the important bit, the really secret special part. Ssshh. Don't tell anyone. The part that got me through, that kept me going all those long years when no-one believed me, when my body just kept getting worse but the doctors kept saying it was my head instead and even I was thinking that I must be mad if everyone said so. Especially the doctors. You see I always believed that one day I'd find out the truth, and I'd be able to turn around and say, 'see, I told you I wasn't making it up, I was telling the truth all along' and that when that happened everyone would be as pleased as I was, because well, didn't they all want me to not be crazy?

The secret of course is that I was the only one pleased to find out. Everyone else would rather that I had stayed a crazed attention seeking liar because that meant they didn't have to face up to their own mistakes. Because that GP wasn't the only one who really didn't want to be proved wrong.


Bendy Cat says

4/23/2009 05:11:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 7 Comments

Dis why u single.


April so far...

4/16/2009 04:37:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 13 Comments

It's been a beautiful month so far,

plenty of blue skies and perfect sailing days

And paddling in the waves

Whatever age you might be,

Toby aged 20 months was having a great time!
It's a shame about the rubbish,

and human filth washed up by the tide,

Spoiling a place as beautiful as this

Still, after the sun goes down and my curtains close on the view, the curls come out


James Purnell:

4/16/2009 12:28:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 6 Comments

benefit scrounging scum!


Another nail in the coffin

4/15/2009 10:01:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 10 Comments

I received my new appointment time from the dental hospital this morning and got straight on the phone to try and rearrange it as it was for a time in the morning that I won't be able to find someone able to come with me.

Once I'd given my details I was advised by the receptionist that I could change my appointment, but if I did so again I would be discharged and need to be re-referred. The dental hospital, so I was advised, have a policy that if an appointment is changed or cancelled twice then they discharge the individual, regardless of reason or being given notice. I explained that it had been the hospital that cancelled the previou
s appointment (and specified such in the new appointment letter) but apparently two changes are two changes and regardless of reason they won't rearrange again.

I explained the reason I needed to change to the receptionist and that I'd previously been told to 'just get an ambulance'*. Once again I was advised to do just that, and once again I said it seemed like a terrible waste of resources when there really was no need if I could just get from the car park to the hospital. The receptionist was really quite taken aback and told me both that she thought I was unusually considerate, and that I'd be surprised how many people just get the ambulance. My reply to that was that if we were all a little more considerate the NHS would not be struggling.

After that the receptionist became much more helpful and went off to find out about the parking situation. This time I was advised that there is a small area of on road parking people with blue badges can use, but that it was only between 10am-4pm so we'd still have to cancel my appointment and rearrange for one during those hours. Fortunately that has been now been done but once again I'm horrified at the attitude towards NHS resources. It's not the receptionists fault, they are poorly paid, poorly treated admin staff who bear the brunt of people's frustrations and rudeness, which must be particularly bad with the current state of NHS dental provision.

The government seem determined to privatise the NHS, insistent competition is the way forward. Competition will only make this kind of situation worse, the only way we can save the NHS is to be more considerate. We have no idea how truly privileged we are in the UK, or how valuable health care really is. It would be a tragedy to only find that out when it's too late.

*They do mean a patient transport type ambulance rather than flashy nee naw ambulance but still!


Britain's Home Care Scandal-Panorama

4/09/2009 03:21:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 12 Comments

Tonight's special edition of Panorama is an investigation into the provision of care services by private companies 'caring' for those in their own homes. Although the print article makes no mention of it, home care is not just for elderly people but is provided/rationed for any person needing assistance in their own homes who meet the criteria their local authority set.

I have personally experienced home care provided by one of the companies Panorama investigates. I've not seen the show in advance but the reports so far fit with my experiences of home care. I was initially granted home care to help with basic housework, laundry and some personal care. I was never able to receive personal care from this company as the social worker forgot to write down on the referral that it was also for personal care and so the company would not insure the carer to provide personal care. The company did provide one regular carer which I later found to be quite unusual. The carer like so many are was lovely. She would have been happy to provide personal care even without the insurance. Lovely though she was, she was also utterly burned out as she was the sole carer for her elderly parents in addition to working full time for minimum wage.

Personal care typically means assistance with personal hygiene needs. In my case I needed someone to be around to make sure I got in and out of the bath safely, to check the temperature of the bath water (I can't feel heat properly!) and to wash my hair. These are fairly typical personal care needs for an elderly person starting to become a little frail but can cover those people who need assistance with a hoist, or who are unable to wash themselves at all. Between myself and the carer we agreed that it was acceptable for her to wash my hair without insurance but not for her to even be in my home when I needed to get in and out of the bath as if I fell she would be liable regardless of whether she was assisting me.

My care needs increased at that time, and a care package which had always been insufficient became unworkable. By that point I was frightened of the social workers who'd consistently failed to do any of the things they'd promised to do and I only managed to set up a review after threatening to sue the local authority for negligence. I'd dropped some cooking oil on the kitchen floor and as carer's are carers not cleaners it had turned the kitchen into a skid pan which the social worker felt could be left in that situation until whenever they could arrange a review. I felt that I didn't need a broken hip, and nor should the NHS have to fund the consequences of such injuries.

I was assigned a different social worker who set up a care package split between using Direct Payments to fund someone to do proper cleaning work and for a care company to provide personal care, cleaning such as washing up and ironing, help with food preparation and help with medication as well as any shopping I might need. For that amount of assistance an hour a day was considered sufficient by social services but only on weekdays. I could have opted to have all the hours on direct payments but as an employer it is very difficult to find anyone who can work legally for less than 16 hours a week, let alone someone you'd be comfortable helping you when you're naked and vulnerable. It was only possible for me to arrange a care package quickly because I'd phoned around all the local care companies to see which had the availability to provide that type of package at the correct times of day. The care company then only required a fax from social services to confirm which could be done by the duty social worker. Despite all that social services had to be threatened with legal action to make them act within an acceptable time frame.

The company I'd found to provide my personal care had promised they would provide continuity of care with a maximum of two different carers. It was immediately obvious that was never going to be the case and throughout the entire time the company provided me with carers I had an ongoing battle with them about how many different carers it was acceptable to send out. The care companies claim it is incredibly difficult to arrange regular carers as they have to organise the rotas in advance and in the morning everyone wants care around the same time. It made less sense to me then that it does now, but I was vulnerable and quickly realised it didn't really matter what I said I would be given what I was given.

The carer's varied from those who deserve every award going through to those who, putting it charitably should be undergoing criminal investigations for their 'caring' behaviour. Very little gets said about good carer, but when it works best it is because a relationship builds up between carer and care recipient. The care companies particularly dislike those relationships though, as inevitably it leads to give and take between carer and client, and good carers often provide additional care in their own time which is forbidden regardless of financial recompense. That is one reason the companies dislike providing regular carers. I'm still very close to one of the carers I met during that time. She was my most regular carer and were she in charge of care provision and standards the whole industry would be turned around! Although I no longer receive any kind of care package from social services I still see this particular carer, who would also happily provide care to me if I asked. I couldn't say enough wonderful things about the carers who are like this particular lady, so I'll simply say that paying people like her minimum wage is disgraceful.

Care companies tend to have a very high staff turnover, partly because the pay is so poor, partly because the conditions are so poor, but mainly because most of the people entering the care industry are so poorly suited to it. They soon discover that it's easier to earn the same money elsewhere for far less hassle and so they leave. I was told by several carers that the care company was charging the carer's to do their required NVQ training and deducting the money from their wage packets. They reported sums up to £50-60 being removed from their monthly wages for these required courses. The care companies are supposed to fund the cost but many deduct it from wages to stop people leaving halfway through the course. Should the course be completed the carer will have the money returned to them, but many had a battle to get the money back. Many of the training courses are of low quality and poorly delivered so people on minimum wage can be understandably reluctant to have to pay for such training.

One of the issues mentioned in tonight's programme is medication. I don't need any assistance to take my medication (although strictly speaking someone should be there to prevent my more extreme choking bouts) but I did and still do require assistance to put the medication into a weekly pill box. This was a task which the social worker had specified I be given assistance for and which went well until the care company sent a supervisor out who insisted they did not dispense medication and stopped the carer's assisting me taking the tablets from their bottles or blister packs so that I could put them into the weekly pill box. That same supervisor later insisted on several occasions that the carer's were not to assist me in and out of the bath and that if I should fall they were to cover me up with a towel and wait for the paramedics. Most of the carer's did insist that was rubbish and of course they would help, but the predictable consequence of all this was that I ended up reluctant to let any carer in the bathroom whilst I was bathing.

I was incredibly isolated at the time I was receiving care, so much so that there were times it would be 3 weeks or more between the times I'd see anyone who wasn't a carer and on many days the carer would be the only person I'd see or speak to. During weeks that the care company were sending multiple different carers to me, often carers I wouldn't have previously met I found myself becoming quite confused and disorientated. There is something particularly unpleasant about having to open your door to a new stranger every day, a stranger who is there to help with the most personal of issues. I still cannot bear to imagine how terrible that must be for elderly people who are already confused.

Sending new carers all the time is not just a problem for the client, it also makes life difficult for the carers who are rarely given enough information about their clients. On one memorable occasion I opened my door to a 'carer' who shoved me aside as she marched past me demanding to know where 'she' was. The woman was expecting an elderly person and was half way up my stairs before I managed to get her to listen to me enough to understand she was there to provide care for me, not the grandmother she'd gone searching for.

I could tell you about the pregnant carer who didn't do any work because she was pregnant and said she couldn't. But she could manage to smoke all my cigarettes every day. Or I could tell you about the day I realised one carer had been changing my sheets every week without mentioning the fact that my cat had urinated on my bed. What would have been a relatively simple issue to deal with by cleaning the mattress (and not a job I would ever expect any of the carers to do) ended up with my having to replace the mattress as it was about six months before I discovered the problem despite repeatedly asking the carer in question if she could smell cat urine in the bedroom.

Then there was the time I ended up on the bathroom floor after being sick. Into the toilet, there was no vomit for a carer to have to clean up. I was on the floor for about 20 minutes before the carer got off the phone to her daughter. There was the carer who delighted in pushing really hard on my neck and spine while she was washing my hair and every time laughed about getting soap in my eyes or banging my head against the taps.

As I only received 'care' during the week eventually social services, very grudgingly agreed to fund weekend care. The new care company were due to start the next Saturday but by the Friday afternoon had not been in touch to assess me. The social worker sent a fax cancelling the call (which I did see evidence of) but the care company claimed not to receive it and so sent a carer anyway. The carer arrived after midday although they'd been arranged for something like 9am. I wasn't there as I wasn't expecting them and had taken the cat to the vet. The first I knew of it was when I received a phone call on my mobile mid appointment to find a very angry duty social worker wanting to know where I was. The care company had been on to social services as they could not gain entry to my home and the social worker wanted them let in. I informed both the social worker and the care company that if they made any further attempts to gain access to my home I would be calling the police to report them for breaking and entering. I later arrived home to find multiple messages on my answering machine from a carer who I hadn't met and who had been cancelled by social services telling me they knew I was in there and to answer the door. There were also messages about wanting the correct key code, all in a tone that suggested I was a wayward child playing games with them. The only person who found it funny was the vet!

I was so furious I complained formally to social services. They spent several months investigating the matter then partially upheld the complaint. They claimed the care company were at fault for not cancelling the call and for their attitude, but that social services had done nothing wrong because they had sent the fax. The duty social worker had also apparently done nothing wrong by telling me to let the care company in.

When I eventually lost my whole care package despite the panic I felt at not having any assistance I was so terrified of social services and care companies that I made the decision not to appeal. Fully understanding what the consequences could be for myself I was very clear that I felt safer taking my chances of ending up dead on the floor than I would ever feel dealing with social services.

There are good carers out there and they are unsung, undervalued heroes without whom the country would grind to a halt within 24 hours, but for every good carer there are two bad. If home care workers did not do their jobs (not even including those who care for their loved ones with only the shamefully low carer's allowance to rely on) then almost immediately the NHS would collapse. I suspect it won't be until that happens that we as a society wake up to the value of home care workers and realise the only way to provide decent care is to provide decent funding. Direct Payments, which enable individual's needing assistance to purchase their own care directly are a great improvement, but the entire scheme is horrifyingly under funded and is not suitable for many elderly people. Direct Payments are great for those disabled people who are in a position to manage the demands of employing their own staff, but when you are ill, vulnerable and in need of help the only thing you really care about is having that help provided to you in a respectful and consistent manner.



4/07/2009 04:58:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 8 Comments

I've been impressively clumsy this past week. Even by my standards impressive. My all round lovely caring type lady wanted to know how I'd got what she thought to be spaghetti bolognaise glued in an attractive splatter pattern across the kitchen tiles. I have no idea how it happened but was able to confirm the suspicious substance as cat food.

Happily there was no cat food involved in this particular injury. Big reminded me recently that just because I can't feel it doesn't mean it won't burn. I really should listen to him more closely, he's a wise, wise man. Instead, ouch!! The culprit was a hot water bottle with a thick fleecy cover.


Tweet your need!

4/06/2009 12:08:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 4 Comments

In a new and exciting development for the lives of valued disabled people scumbag scroungers, the unelected Prime Minister government today announced plans to trail blaze the areas of social networking and independent living. These exciting plans mean social networking and the provision of social care will be taken to a new level which the planners believe to be a natural development.

No longer will politically correct, patronising do gooderssocial workers wield inappropriate power over those fuckin' cripples who happen to be a drain on society and your honestly paid taxes disabled people. No more will be denied access to services because budgets have all been spent getting pissed on the council team building breaks in Icelandensuring the health and safety department are fully briefed in all methods of refusing accessible equipment to anyone who might need that access.
This exciting new technological development means all those contacting the SS will be supplied with internet access and a twitter feed. Thus providing the additional benefit of solving the recruitment crisis currently afflicting the SS.

Members of the SS will be replaced with highly trained social care professionals who will refuse to change lightbulbs or perform personal care because "it's not on the sheet" teach disabled people the in's and out's of social networking and how to use it to call for assistance. Any time such crippled people feel they would like assistance they are taught to tweet that need in explicit detail, while the general public are encouraged to offer help in return for reductions in their council tax.

Early reports of female cripples having an unfair advantage whilst appealing for personal care are at this stage considered to be unfounded, but archive footage will be available via selected services for the bargain cost of less than £10 per taxpayer.


For the want of a nail....

4/01/2009 11:42:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 13 Comments

When I saw LC recently he referred me to the specialist dental hospital because of the problems EDS'ers can have with local anaesthetics and ridiculously keen to dislocate jaws. My appointment is tomorrow.

For some reason best known to themselves the authorities (NHS, Local council, who knows?) have rearranged parking for the hospitals so now the disabled parking is in a multi storey car park some distance from the hospital. Knowing this I went to considerable efforts to find a friend who would have hours of free time in the middle of the working day to help me get from the car park to the hospital. It's not an easy task as the vast majority of my friends work, and the odd few who don't are no more able to push a wheelchair across town than I am. Fortunately one of my friends is a student and was able to rearrange her schedule to come with me.

The dental hospital have just phoned to cancel the appointment. Big brownie points for giving as much notice as they could, and as I said on the phone, people get sick and things need to be changed. S'fine by me.

I thought I'd grab the opportunity to ask about parking. Can the hospital perhaps arrange for porters to assist people to and from the car parks? Apparently it's much too far for that. I was told to see my GP to book an ambulance. I demurred saying that it seemed a terribly expensive way of solving a problem and shockingly wasteful when I'm perfectly capable of driving myself to the appointment. The kindly girl on the other end of the phone informed me quite firmly that I did need it, but that more importantly 'everyone does it, so why shouldn't you?'

Erm, because it's wrong, that's why! It's that kind of attitude (however helpful she was trying to be) which is bringing the NHS to it's knees. That and the inability to make local decisions. An ambulance is expensive, especially as it's a 40 minute or so drive to the hospital from my home which includes road tolls. I don't need an ambulance* as I can drive. The cheap, practical solution that I can immediately think of would be to issue vouchers or set up a contract with a local taxi firm to take patients to and from the car park as this situation must be very common. Ambulances/patient transport could then be reserved for those with a clinical need cutting costs enormously.

But, it's the NHS. Everyone thinks it's free and everyone does it. So why not get an ambulance like the girl advised. I guess that depends on whether we still want an NHS in 5 years time.

*Alright, yes I'm also a stubborn cow who doesn't want to go in an ambulance