Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Five Day Health Service

What happens when you’re ill and ask for help – at the weekend, of course ?
For over a month I’ve suffered from a chest infection.  When I say ‘suffer’ I mean being glued to the bed with a tight chest, coughing up green sputum, with no idea when to ask for help or who to ask.  The first antibiotic course seemed to help then, the catarrh and the coughing increased again. So, when do you call the doctor ? The first time it was done for me and the second I did it myself.  This locum GP prescribed another course of antibiotics, and in a mere three days I began to feel so ill I thought I’d die. Of course, this was on a Saturday and I really didn’t know what to do.  Eventually, after a bad reflux, I called NHS Wales Direct (a very efficient, customer friendly organisation that actually works) for some advice.  With no delay, I spoke to an efficient, friendly nurse, who was very sympathetic.  Unfortunately, she said I had to have an ambulance, even though I hate the impersonal minimal attention of ‘the assessment ward’. I began to worry as I didn’t have any angina symptoms to warrant such urgent attention.  Twenty minutes later, an ambulance arrived from Merthyr ( as there was no available unit available in the Cardiff/Penarth area.  After an ECG and the usual lesser tests, we agreed that it wasn’t my heart.  They also pointed out that UHW was overwhelmed and they’d have to try Llandough.  Now, this is where guilt kicked in.  I never see the doctor unless something chronic occurs, because they’re always so busy.  Now, I was told that the hospitals were overcrowded, so I ended up walking back to my flat, feeling like I shouldn’t have asked for help at all.

The next day ( Sunday ) I felt worse than ever, with no one to call except the ‘Out of Hours’ service who could only offer an appointment at their base at Barry Hospital, or a doctor would call ( eventually and send me to hospital ). Great ! – I had not enough energy to leave my flat, let alone drive my car, yet there I was in the midst of the ultimate dilemma – I was really ill, yet made to feel like I was a ruddy nuisance to the health service. Then I began to ask myself – “Does anyone else out there suffer such problems ?”  Well are there ????  Please let me know, in comments or a Word page that I may transfer to my blog. R.W.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Robin I'm sorry you had such a hard time getting help over the weekend. If you had called me we could have arranged to pick you up and take you to Barry Hospital - please don't hesitate to ask in future.

    When I was unwell on Christmas Eve and called NHS Direct and then GP OOH they were helpful. I must admit though it's not a fast service by any means. In the end I needed an ambulance and the OOH nurse actually arranged it for me (this was at 6.30am) and they arrived in minutes.

    I too had ECG etc and they took me to Llandough which was practically dead and I was sorted very quickly, blood taken, oxygen applied etc.

    When I had to go back a few days later for a CT scan (all closed due to xmas hols) it was mayhem. I was surrounded by people who had come to hospital for coughs, colds, headaches, and wondered why they'd been there for hours and hours.

    Now what really pisses me off is those people who go to the MEAU's with symptoms that they could ask the pharmacist about, let alone their GP, and hhold up the system for those who are really unwell.

    The knock on effect then is that the paramedics bring in patients who are genuinely unwell and are clogged up waiting to handover because of said time wasters.

    I seriously think the NHS needs some 'bouncer' type staff to say 'GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE YOU TIME WASTER!'