A letter in The Telegraph”

A reader in France sent a letter, saying if he needed to see his orthopeadic surgeon, “I would phone the hospital and get an appointment with him and also an X-ray appointment for an hour earlier.  This appointment would be within two to three weeks”.  On the day he would have the X-ray and within about 30 minutes would have X-ray and report, and be ready to see the orthopeadic consultant.

On this side of the Channel you phone your surgery.  The receptionist takes your request.  If you manage to escape having to make an appointment to see the doctor, you still have to wait in for a phone call from them, when they ask time-consuming questions as to why you need this.  Woe betide you if you are out when the doctor calls – you might not get a call back as they are so over-worked.

Weeks later you get a letter giving you an appointment with the surgeon.  Never mind if the date is inconvenient, the NHS doesn’t expect you to have commitments.  At this appointment you are told to return for X-rays/MRI Scans.  Thereby wasting your time, and two trips if you qualify for hospital transport, instead of one.

Why is it in France patients are assumed to be intelligent enough to self-refer, and hospitals make life easy by doing tests/investigations on the same day? Yet the NHS persists in treating us like feudal peasants with nothing better to do than sit around in Outpatients.  As Graeme Davidson, the Telegraph reader writes “why do we still continue to think that our NHS, in which I worked for more than 30 years, should be protected when it is so inefficient?

Other countries let patients self-refer, so is it only in Britain we are considered to be time-wasters  – or is it just that the NHS thinks we are incapable of sorting out our own appointments at a time convenient for us?