Sharp rise in the number of patients waiting more than a year
So Prof. Karola Sikora, world-renowned cancer specialist, book is timely reminder
Sikora has worked in medicine for 40 years, originally in the NHS, then in a senior job in the World Health Organisation, and now privately. Often quoted on new initiatives for cancer treatment, he is passionate about better care for patients. And in his book, that means no unnecessary waiting for treatment.
Author of the book, “The Street-wise Patient’s Guide to Surviving Cancer” he warns patients that, contrary to what they think, the NHS is not there to help individuals, and they cannot simply trust their doctors and medical team to ensure that they get the best available treatment. To buy the book go to https://aftercancers.com/products/
In other words it is up to the patient to ensure they get the best treatment possible for THEM – don’t sit back and expect your GP to do this for you. If you are a patient, you either make a fuss when things don’t go well (what you should do, according to senior Consultants). Or take the consequences.
So here is some of Karol Sikora’s advice to get the best care for you: (with some comments from me)
- Learn as much as possible about YOUR cancer. He advises browsing American websites to see what they advise. Start-up list on http://126.96.36.199/~aftercan/2015/09/helpful-websites-for-survivors/ or see http://188.8.131.52/~aftercan/category/american-websites/
- Request copies of scans and tests. Then you have them when the NHS IT system doesn’t work.
- Negotiate for best treatment – this might mean asking to be referred to another hospital. You DON’T have to go to the one your GP selects, although they will want you to go to their preferred hospital. You can Google waiting times, or name of consultant, etc. Stick to your guns and INSIST – you have the right. .
- Work out a treatment ‘diary’ – and if appointments fall behind ask your GP or Team to sort this out. Don’t be afraid to chase up people/depts, as the NHS is extending time between appointments as a way of cost cutting. Also, the Spine (data system NHS uses) often makes mistakes with my data and appointment letters never arrive. So check – because the system is in meltdown all over Britain.
- Learn names of Receptionists and Consultant’s PA – and thank them for their help. Give them flowers, a home-made cake, write an old-fashioned letter or do something so they remember you. Then when things go wrong you can go direct to them; it is surprising how helpful they can be, particularly in getting you moved up to the top of the appointments list. I saw a Consultant privately, He was so angry at the way the Spine had made mistakes he said he wouldn’t charge me!
- Always see same doctor or consultant. When called in Outpatients and I find I don’t know the doctor, I politely say “I am here to see X and don’t want to waste your time”. They have NEVER objected – instead I seem to get a look of approval. Doctors dislike the clinic system too. They say you need continuity. If nurses try to shove me in to see another doctor in Clinics, I say politely that I have come to see ‘Dr. X…’ and will wait until they are free. They soon learn I won’t be fobbed off.
Take note of comment from an admired medical writer on current state of NHS: