Set off for my very first medical appointments in Oxford, and had a wonderful welcome at both. First stop was to check in with the Maggie Centre and a meeting to discuss benefits. In London I qualified for enough of these to cover the cost of a carer; I feel stupid, but if I even bend over to make the bed, I risk toppling – and as for loading the washing machine – it’s weird, but I often over-balance. So I depend on a carer to keep me upright and off the floor!
As I arrived at the Centre, I am just steadying myself to walk up to the entrance (it was slippery with rain) and Elizabeth came out through the doors with a welcoming smile and an arm. Ushering me inside, I was sat down with the offer of tea and fantastic carrot cake. Yummy. Then reassurance that I would still be able to get a carer, and some sage advice about what to ask for benefits.
Then off to the GenesisCare Centre for an appointment with a private consultant. I felt I needed this to start my life in Oxford, and a rushed 10 – 20 minutes NHS appointment wouldn’t give me enough time to sort out what I needed. GenesisCare is the largest provider of cancer and cardiac services in Australia; obviously a private company, but it was worth every penny when the Receptionist comes rushing out when she sees me struggling out of the car, helps me inside and offers me ‘tea or coffee’?
And when I was ushered in to see the Consultant and her helpful Nurse, I was with her for over an hour. Came out absolutely astonished at what we had got through, how she had grasped exactly what was bothering me, and set up a plan (through the NHS) of Hydrotherapy and similar services I needed.
Phew! This would have taken months in London, but all done and dusted in just an afternoon. Then have a lot of ‘interesting’ conversations about Oxfam. What a good idea, but from the very first it was involved in controversy. They were taken to the Charity Commissioners by other charities who questioned the way they operated (my father was one of the Charity heads involved); worried at the way they operated. Let’s hope that this awful episode might make a few other charities look to their methods.