On this occasion it was with my son. Who like many of us and tried his best to stay away from our GP. He had a bloodshot eye, which was getting worse. Of course it got so bad that he couldn’t see out of it! That’s when we needed to test the system recently, on Friday 15th . Yes we all know he should have gone earlier, but he is a typical man. Also very anxious after hearing all the reports about our current healthcare situation. So he rung the GP, who of course couldn’t see him. But advised him to ring 111. After a few conversations they told him to go to our local hospital, Croydon University. Where he would be seen at 11.15am. That’s precise we thought!
When he arrived it was explained that he must join the queue, as they don’t do appointments, even for eyes! The positive was that the hospital has a specialist Moorfields eye unit, so we felt reassured. My son was treated by an incredibly empathetic registrar. He explained he would have to refer him upstairs as his eye needed specialist attention. What followed was a typical red tape laden few hours between departments. Email after email. Missing attachments and delays. Finally around 3pm the registrar was asked by the eye team if my son could come back on Monday, as they closed at 4PM and couldn’t see him. All staff in A+E were incredulous, and embarrassed by such an obstructive system.
By this time he really did require urgent help, and the only option was to go into London to attend Moorfields eye hospital as an A+E case. Which we could have done in the first place, if we had known! Finally we found the team we needed. After some painful injections in his eye, he was diagnosed and given 6 weeks medication. With a follow-up to check everything was progressing as it should. Incredible NHS staff at every step, as always. But dramatically hindered by the system. GP, 111, Croydon University, Moorfields Eye hospital.
We took advice from the system. But my instinct was to go straight to London. All those extra steps made it difficult to get the treatment he needed. But what capped it all really, was the specialist eye hospital in Croydon closing at 4PM on a Friday and not re-opening until Monday morning. Apparently this is the norm and nothing to do with staff shortages! Of course there are so many issues coming into play with our NHS. But in my opinion it just does not help itself. Antique systems not able to make the best of technological advancement being one. I cannot fix people, but I am an expert in systems and efficiency.
The service really does not possess the dynamic leadership it deserves. Proper ‘people managers,’ who can organise and motivate. Not medical people promoted beyond their skill set, just because they have been there a long time. As always the problems come from the top. With constantly changing Ministers and many staff just hanging on for their pension. The entire thing is rotten from top to bottom!
Yes, we all owe our lives to it, and we have all received life-changing care when we needed. Incredible support during covid of course. But we ALL deserve better. The incredible staff deserve a better system that allows them to take proper breaks and time off. Without the constant daily pressure. Who would want to work in that environment? We need to be proud once again of our healthcare. At the moment it is extremely fragile and we as patients are very nervous of having to use it.
We certainly need new hospitals and infrastructure etc. But more importantly we need to be doing the basics right. Not 3 letters for the same appointment, and a constantly non answered phone when calling your hospital. Communication is still the most important thing in our lives and currently that is a basic we have not got right. It’s not about working hard but working smart. This recent example of mine is far from that.
I want to dedicate this post to all the incredible NHS staff working in dreadful conditions. Thank you for what you are doing. You are much appreciated and I will continue to fight for better conditions to help us all.
As always these are my personal opinions based on my own experiences. Please feel free to share your own below.