NHS waiting lists getting longer
Your illness is important to us. All our doctors and nurses are busy attending to other patients. You will be attended to as soon as someone becomes available.
Patients can feel they are dealing with ‘call centre mentality’ (see possible scenario above) when they try to find out why an appointment has been cancelled. But short of going private when this happens, all they can do is just sit back and wait.
- They are told others are in same situation
- They may be in pain but the NHS doesn’t care
- They are unable to work
- Think the NHS is too big to care
- but do nothing as they “don’t want to be a bother”.
Yet again, I couldn’t get a follow-up appointment
When I see my Polio Consultant in January, he says he needs to see me again in 3 – 4 months, i.e. May. May comes, I phone to chase up but am told “No clinic appointments left and we close in July”.
How to get an appointment
When you are told your appointment is cancelled, or you aren’t even on the list, this is when the ‘fight’ starts. Don’t sit back and expect your GP to fight for you. They probably have other patients in the same boat. According to senior Consultants make a fuss when things don’t go to plan.
So I took advice from others, who suggested
You DON’T have to go to the hospital your GP selects – you have the right to go to another NHS hospital. .
Consider contacting as many people/organisations as you can find to help you get that elusive appointment, such as
- Your local CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group). This Group commission hospitals locally to provide services in your area.
- Your GP : it may or may not be something your GP has organised and they may or may not have control over
- Your MP – always a good idea as officially the NHS comes under a Government Ministry. Sometimes just copying in your MP by putting CC on a letter/email will get attention
- In cerrtain instances, make use of your MEP whilst we are still in the EU.
- Ask advice from the Patients’ Association
- If what you are suffering from has a charity looking after it, ask advice of their Helpline e.g. Macmillan, Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer or whichever charity is relevant, Heart, Rheumatology, Arthritis, Polio, etc.
- Ask if it is possible to go to adjacent area for earlier treatment. I am under 14 different Consultants, three of whom are in London because I couldn’t get an appointment in Oxford. I am even entitled to hospital transport to go there.
- Think about going to Europe for treatment. Many NHS trusts will actually pay for you to be treated there – it’s worth asking. Those who have gone down this route have generally been very satisfied. Most staff speak English, wards are much smaller so you might even have a single room, standards are high, and only drawback can be that you might have to pay out for travel and some incidentals not covered by the NHS. Yes, there are horror stories – but so are there concerning many hospitals in the UK.
I used a combination of 1,3 and 5 – and have just been told I have an appointment next week. So one of these methods worked!
Cancer guru Karol Sikora has even written a book on the subject, and suggests:-
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.
To make sure of follow-ups
Ensure you see the same doctor or consultant when you attend an Outpatients Clinic. Then you don’t have to take ‘first come’ when you are called in. If shown in and see a stranger politely say “I am here to see X and don’t want to waste your time”. Doctors dislike the clinic system too. They say you need continuity.