​My Love / Hate relationship with our NHS

A couple of things have happened this week which has made me reflect on my experience with our NHS. It’s left me thinking, love it or loathe it? 
As some of you know, it took around two years to get The Monster’s autism diagnosis – that’s pretty good, and we are considered lucky to get a diagnosis at such an early age. He hasn’t been seen by his paediatrician for 6 months and is now due a follow-up.  I am desperate to get the ball rolling on getting  Occupational Therapy and a formal sensory processing diagnosis. This will not only massively benefit him (and us) but will also add some weight for his educational needs and support, which is now urgent given we have some big decisions to make before he is due to start school in September. I have made no secret about this and have spoken to health visitors, his GP and finally on advice that it would be the quickest route, I spoke to his paediatricians secretary. She advises me to call the booking team as nothing was in the diary. This is why I started to reflect, bare with me and I will put some more meat on the bones. 

I am super greatful for our NHS most of the time. Let me pinpoint just some of the reasons why I LOVE it:

  • I have gone under the knife four times, each time losing a body part and have received good care on (almost) all occasions.
  • We have leaned heavily on it for The Monster and will continue to, likely for the rest of his life. He has had hours of observations, consultations and tests prior to diagnosis alone
  • His 3 month old baby brother (AKA The Small One) is also reliant on it after being born with only one kidney, a poorly one at that. He will be having his first operation later this month. I will be eternally greatful to the nurses that looked after my precious baby around the clock when he was born and in neo-natal away from his mummy. The unsung heroes of the NHS.
  • We are (almost) guaranteed to get a DR’s appointment on the same day we ring. 

BUT

Here’s the flip side:

  • Today I made a call to chase up The Monster’s follow-up appointment which is due this month (May). I get told that he can’t get seen until SEPTEMBER as the diary is full until then. I respond that this is totally unacceptable as it should’ve already been booked and manage to get one on 31st July. The booking system is so inadequate and the DR’s are so busy that they simply do not have the time or resources to offer more slots.
  • The Monster only received his diagnosis after me chasing the hell out of most appointments. In fact, right at the beginning of the process when he needed his first speech and language appointment, hearing and epilepsy tests they archived his files rather than sending to the relevant departments. If I didn’t chase, he may have been lost in the system forever. It is worth pointing out that the Dr was mortified that this happened, they only realised when I chased and pointed out it was due to a new system they were using. They advised me to complain. I didn’t. 
  • The Small One had his second lot of immunisations this week. After the nurse injected him, she slipped with the needle and stabbed my leg leaving me bleeding. She apologied, shocked and visibly a bit shaken. I said it was OK, and genuinely was OK with it as it had only been in my healthy boys leg. It could’ve been a different story though.
  •  I had several antenatal scans with The Small One where they identified he had Renal Dilated Pelvis (a poorly kidney), fairly common and should clear up after birth. They stated on the reports they had seen both kidneys (several times). He was born with ONE kidney. Now, I’m no doctor but surely they should’ve looked for the other given that they had identified one was poorly? When I have the time and headspace to fight this, I will campaign to get their scanning paperwork changed. Hearing the words “not compatible with life” when he was only 2 days old will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I have met some of the most amazing, selfless people working in our healthcare system and for the most part the downfalls have been to systems and procedure. But it’s also evident that these guys are busy. SO busy. I’m not going to get all political. I just wanted a bit of a vent. How about you, do you love or loathe it? 

You Don’t Know. My complaint to Lloyd’s Pharmacy.

Dear Lloyd’s Pharmacy,

You Don’t Know:

You don’t know what kind of day I have had, you don’t know that my 3.5 year old son and I have spent an hour and half this morning at hospital whilst I had an antenatal scan. You don’t know that I was dreading that appointment because I had no alternative but to take my son with me, knowing full well he would be a handful. You don’t know how pleased I was that the only mischief he caused was turning the scan monitor on and off throughout the scan and lining his toy cars up on top of the bin, despite me telling him countless times it was dirty.

You don’t know that we went straight to the doctors so my son could get seen for his spreading rash immediately after my hospital appointment.  You don’t know the relief I felt when being told there was a zero minute wait, and then my rising anxiety as we were still waiting to be seen 25 minutes later. You don’t know that during this time I struggled to keep my son entertained and he fell over not once but twice in the waiting room resulting in lots of tears and uncomfortable cuddles as he clung to my 32 week pregnant belly.

You don’t know that our visit to the pharmacy was the third outing in the car today. The third time I had heaved my son into his chair whilst he struggled as he thought he should be driving.  You don’t know that I was dreading my visit to Lloyds, not least because my son tries to rip all the products off your shelves and stack them his very own way.  You don’t know that the reason I took him out of the pharmacy to watch the buses outside was to save your pretty displays.  You don’t know how much I wanted to get home and back to our ‘safe haven’.

You don’t know the rising anger I felt when your practitioner handed me one prescription and a sticker for the other telling me it wasn’t in stock but would be available to be picked up later this afternoon.  You don’t know that I didn’t want to come out of the house again today, that I didn’t want to contend with getting shoes on and getting into the car again for my son to once again try to re-arrange your shelves and for me to try and persuade him to watch the buses again.

You don’t know that by giving me the prescription back I could have walked 5 doors down the road to an alternative pharmacist and got the prescription there and then without the hassle of an extra journey to my day. You don’t know how livid I was when I asked for the prescription back instead of the sticker and you refused to give it me because the order had been placed leaving me with no alternative but to come back and collect.  You don’t know that I when I returned an hour and half later I would be expecting it to be ready, you then told me it would be ready after 16.30 (another 3 hours to wait). You never told me this when you gave me the sticker in the first instance.  You don’t know that when I tried to complain whilst nursing my 32 week pregnant belly and my son on my hip (to save your shelving once again) that tears were pricking my eyes because facing coming out again was the last thing I wanted to do.

You don’t know that my son is autistic and such journeys and eventful days are stressful.  You don’t know because you assumed.  You assumed I would be cool with receiving a sticker instead of my sons cream. You assumed that it would be ok for me to watch him itching for a further 4.5 hours and him not understanding me telling him not to.  The staff were rude when I complained even though the error was on your part.  You should have given me the option of going elsewhere, you should have told me what time it would be ready.  You don’t know this is the second time in so many days that you haven’t had the stock I needed.  You don’t know the little independent pharmacy 5 doors down have received my business and will continue to do so.

You definitely should know customer service. Shame on you Lloyds.