DON’T ignore patients – we KNOW our bodies
And refusing us medical tests is nothing but Bullying, And the NHS is good at that.
Today’s media is full of shocking statistics such as over 7 in 10 patients whose illness is picked up in A & E had previously seen their GP about this condition. With cancer, this is particularly serious, as delays in starting treatment can mean a fast-growing tumour will have taken a real hold.
Discussing this around the table, I am afraid my friends are not very sympathetic; general opinion seems to be that we meakly accept a ‘wait and see’ attitude. It is this that makes me boil up – and storm off to ‘go private’ if unsure of my medical condition. Well done my private GP, who says “I always listen to my patients, particularly women”. He reckons we know when something isn’t right.
So every time we see a story in the media about someone’s cancer that wasn’t identified, make a promise to yourself you will go on making a fuss, until you get a test. After all, the NHS just doesn’t do its sums properly: most tests are relatively inexpensive and can save years of expensive treatment. OK, so only 1 in 5 (or 10 depending on which report you read) turn out to be cancer, but even scribbles on the back of an envelope can tell you ten short tests have go to be cheaper than one late cancer diagnosis.
The outcome of ‘wait and see’ is that overall we have the worst cancer survival rates in Europe; not something to be proud of. So next time you wait and wait to see the doctor – then get fobbed off – just say I WANT A TEST. You often have to fight to get good treatment, but it’s YOUR life. Just remind yourself “the patient (or their mother) often knows best”.
I woke up one morning, and I just knew I had cancer. Then I had a dilemma: if I phoned my NHS surgery I would be told “first appointment is three weeks”. Instead, I phoned my private GP, and three hours later was in his surgery as an emergency. As a result of fast action I was such an early cancer case that the doctor couldn’t find anything, but sent me off anyway for a mammogram, so I was ‘caught’ very early on.
We all know that there are hypochondriacs who waste doctor’s time. But there is the classic fairy tale of crying ‘wolf’ and one day it became true. If someone keeps on asking for medical help, they have a genuine case, OR they have a mental problem; either way they need help and shouldn’t be brushed aside.
Back in 2012 medical professionals were given clear guidelines that patients’ concerns over their children’s health must be taken seriously – whether it is a GP, in A & E, via 111 – or whatever. The same should apply to adults, particularly where cancer is suspected.
If you are accompanying someone whom you suspect is ill, it is helpful to jot down whom they saw, what treatment (if any) was recommended, and what was the reaction. If a medical professional sees someone taking notes, it can concentrate their mind, and perhaps make them stop and think that they should do more to help.
Also, if you keep taking someone to A & E, you can show the notes to an over-worked doctor. They will notice the number of times the patient has been seen, and perhaps consider that more tests (and the expense) would be worthwhile.
Never be afraid of making a fuss
As Brits we don’t like to make a fuss, but just think. You make a fuss in A & E, and no-one is going to take any notice; they have their own problems. So IF, and it is unlikely, you have made a fuss over nothing, you can just slink away and keep quiet. But at least, by making a fuss, you are seen; it is more than likely there is something wrong. And then you have treatment before the problem escalates.
If you KNOW you are sick, but are turned away yet again, you can ‘put your money where your mouth is’
- Most cities have a hospital with private A & E. If you are genuinely not sick, they will charge you but you won’t get much more than a cup of tea and a hearing
- If you are really sick, you can keep the bill and challenge the local CCG, with evidence of which hospital turned you away. It will take a lot of fighting to get a refund, but good luck.
- Or ask a good local chemist for name/s of private doctors. Again the doctors will see you, and you will be listened to in return for your fee. If you are genuinely ill your care will be fast-tracked.
- But, as it’s more than likely you know your body best, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you are getting the help you definitely need.