Wednesday 16 August 2017

Being triggered by the receptionist at the GPs' surgery

I think I know what triggered me yesterday. My 90-year old mum had been trying to call the GP all morning but (as usual) the line was constantly engaged. So I drove up there to see if my mum could see a GP ASAP.

There I was, facing the surgery receptionist, trying to get something done. The best she could do, said the receptionist, was to get a GP to telephone my mum (a lot of good that would do when she needed a physical examination!!). Or I could bring my mum in to see a practice nurse (no GPs available, sorry).

Throughout, I just felt that she just didn't care. She didn't care that a 90-year old lady was sick. That we can never get through to the surgery by telephone. That we have to wait at least three weeks to see a GP if we do eventually manage to get through...

It was as if, well, that's the NHS for you, our hands are tied, what can we do? As if we patients are meant to feel, well OK, that's alright then, the NHS is in a mess, there are no doctors available, no-one has any time and if you do see a GP the chances are you could have done a self-diagnosis over the internet.

I got the impression that that's just the way things are these days. Like it or lump it.

That afternoon (mum went for the practice nurse option rather than the telephone call) mum and I were surprised to see the waiting room so very empty. With GP appointments so few and far between, we expected the surgery to be jam-packed with people. But there were just three other patients.

"Maybe they're all busy trying to get through on the phone!" I said to mum cynically.

The receptionist told me that we could have made an appointment online. I said the website says you need a PIN number to access it which we need to get from reception. She said, no, you don't need a PIN.

But I've just checked the website and she is wrong.

No surprises there. It's not the first time I've been misinformed by the person on reception and when I complained, they just closed ranks and denied it had ever happened.

These gatekeepers make me mad because it triggers memories of when I was so desperately trying to speed up Ben's referral for eating disorder treatment and also to get him diagnosed (which never happened). Getting an appointment with the GP was a nightmare and when we eventually did, the GP simply didn't recognise an emerging eating disorder or give me any information about the treatment available.

Ben was just told to go home, eat more and come back in two weeks.

I got 'that look'. The 'fussy, overprotective mum' look...

In the end, we had to twist the GP's arm to get a referral for eating disorder treatment. And, when no confirmation letter arrived from Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) during the following four weeks and I kept going into the practice to see if they could speed things up, I was met with this brick gatekeeper wall.

Ditto when we eventually did get an acknowledgement of referral for eating disorder treatment and were told the wait could be 18-22 weeks.

The best they could do, when I eventually managed to speak to a GP about the problem, was to give me a list of private mental health services.

No-one was budging. It was a case of 'like it or lump it'. We had to wait. Like everyone else. This is the NHS, you know... There was nothing anyone could do. It was as if I was being a nuisance. 'That look' again...

And yesterday, as I tried to get my elderly mum seen by someone at the surgery, it all came flooding back.

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