The NHS runs on forms
The NHS chucked out Heat and other dog-eared magazines lying around in Outpatients, and instead, we occupy our waiting time with a clipboard and form to fill in.
Handed to you without a smile; the Receptionist knows what’s on the form, and she’s not giving anything away.
Remember when every Secretary of State for Health spouted the same mantra: cut back on time-wasting paperwork. Then went on to devise more forms “to improve efficiency” No wonder doctors are always running late.
You fill in what seems to be the important stuff – then – you come to the really important stuff. What the NHS thinks is going to help you to get better.
First: work out what sex you are. I must admit I didn’t know I had so many options – but will it make a difference which one I tick?
Then: read down a long list asking what religion you are. Now, this is where it starts to get real, and you wonder if you are here to see about your broken bones, or are you are worse off than you thought.?
These are REALLY important questions. It’s no use being facetious – the NHS and umpteen nosey parkers really want to know.
What is your Ethnic background? Easy, I answer Other: Angle-Norman (totally true). That’ll confuse the computer.
Do I consider myself Male/Female then a list of words comes next, which I am not sure I really understand? Suppose I tick the wrong box? Will I be chucked out of the ward I might be in, and end up somewhere alien? Decisions. Decisions. Why not just ask me which loo I want to use?
Instead I write MYOB. And with any luck I will be out of there before the Receptionist tells me that’s not acceptable.
Religion. Well, that used to be easy: I filled in C & E (Christmas and Easter) and that satisfied them. The hospital Chaplain would pass by my bed, and boy – did I make use of them. They knew everything that was happening in the hospital, and were a fount of knowledge if you needed anything done. Now, in a cost-cutting exercise the NHS is losing these useful people. But no worries – now the NHS has it all down on paper, so no need to talk to someone.
Dignity Then comes “do I consider I was treated with dignity”. No, what’s dignified about giving blood and being punctured with a ‘sharp scratch’ Ouch!
Did I find it easy to complain? So even before this comes into my head, you are telling me I should be complaining. Hasn’t the NHS got anything better to do?
Boot on other feet
And so it goes on. Weren’t we promised that we were aiming for a paperless society. Fat chance.
But, query something about your treatment, and quick as a flash, back comes a jobs-worth quoting ‘data protection’. Now I actually read the act, many years ago, to see how it might impact on the company I was running. We were doing a lot of work with Government Ministries and such-like, but as long as one acted like a sensible human being, it seemed the Act made sense.
NOT the way it is run today, when it is used as a cop-out for doing nuffin. If anyone can tell me why the NHS can ‘lose’ 700,000 items of our personal data, yet refuse to talk to you if you phone to ask how a friend is doing, “because you are not a member of their family”; – they can’t. It’s just the lazy person’s way of doin’ nuffin.
And don’t get me on the reasons why the NHS can be so secretive, yet Outpatient Receptionists can ask in a loud voice “what’s your date of birth?” then “And do you still live at…..?” – questions which are tailor-made to help any Hacker sitting in a crowded room. It beggars belief from an organisation that says it keeps our data safe. Huh!
If I am brave enough you will see the next form I get used for the useful purpose of making paper airplanes. Should keep a crowded waiting room amused for hours. Whee!