I was out and about in my car the other day and something happened that was really, really irritating and I thought I would write a blog post about to ask my fellow bloggers whether they agreed with me, or not. The trouble is that as soon as I sat at the keyboard I had no idea what it was I was going to write about!
However (never one to waste a good blog post title!) I was irritated by something else yesterday morning. I had to go to my local GP surgery for a routine NHS health check up. It seemed like a good idea. I’ve never been asked to go for one of them before, so maybe it’s my age (not that I’m happy to have a reminder of the passing years) or something new that’s being brought in at my surgery. Anyway, the first thing that annoyed me is the fact that I used to go to the reception desk to ‘check in’ with the receptionist before sitting down in the waiting room and waiting for my turn. The advances of modern technology now mean that we have to ‘check in’ on a touch screen (opportunities for spreading germs) situated just by the door, which takes twice as long. The people who are standing around in the narrow entrance hall, either for their turn to ‘check in’ or to speak to a receptionist, can easily see what you are doing so there is no privacy there whatsoever.
The second annoying thing is that, in the waiting room, a TV screen on the wall displays your name, which doctor/nurse you are seeing, and which room to go to. No privacy there either. The third thing that annoyed me was that while I was waiting to ‘check in’ I could hear one of the receptionists on the phone (no privacy there). Obviously someone had phoned to make an appointment, but the first available appointment with that person’s doctor was on the 2nd of December. The 2nd of December!! Outrageous! That’s three weeks away! I hope it wasn’t something urgent.
Which brings me on to another point. The arrangement for which GP surgery you register with when you move into our area used to be based on geographical area, or numbers of patients. If a surgery’s patient list was full, you had to go elsewhere to register. Simple. A year or so ago that changed, and now they cannot turn anyone away. In our area there has been a lot of new building of houses and apartments, so there are a lot more people looking for a doctor to register with. Our surgery cannot turn them away and so the list of registered patients gets longer and longer, meaning that it is harder and harder to get an appointment to see a doctor. It’s shocking.
If we are ill, we have to phone at 8 o’clock in the morning if we want an appointment for that day. Of course everyone is trying to do that, so it can take a while to get through. Often by the time you get through the appointments are all taken. If you feel ill later in the day, you still have to wait for 8 o’clock the following morning to try and make an appointment. They do offer an emergency walk-in clinic for a short time each day, but you still have to have made an appointment (no, I can’t figure that one out either), or sometimes you can ask for a doctor to phone you back which can sometimes save having to make an appointment at all. There are a few appointment slots which are kept each day for occasions where you need to book a future appointment, for a routine check up perhaps, rather than an urgent appointment, which might be what the person I heard on the phone was trying to do. But, all in all, I think the system is dreadful.
Many years ago we used to live in a little village. If you wanted to see the doctor you just went to the surgery and waited. I wish it could still be like that here.
I do realise that we are very lucky to have free healthcare in this country, when others don’t, but it still frustrates me when it is run badly.
How does it work where you live? Can you see your doctor easily?