I would like to complain in the strongest possible terms about the service I received at the hands of the NHS this weekend.
On Saturday morning I woke in the early hours with what I knew, instantly was a UTI. I haven’t had one – thankfully – for the last ten years, but they’re not exactly forgettable, are they? I gave it 24 hours to see if it would pass by itself, but by Sunday morning, when I was literally pissing blood, I thought it was probably time to call in the professionals. GP surgeries aren’t open at the weekends, and I have grown fond of my kidneys and didn’t want to risk waiting until Monday.
(Side note: the last time I had this exact sort of medical mini-emergency, midway through running a training course, I embarrassedly confided in my – male – boss at the time that I was passing blood, and instead of sending me home or offering to get me a hot drink, he merely asked me what my contingency plan was if I was off work the next day. Never let anyone tell you that Financial Services doesn’t attract pricks.)
On a GP friend’s advice, I called 111, and got put straight through to a chap who triaged my symptoms flawlessly and then made me an appointment at the Urgent Care Centre for 3 p.m. that afternoon at our local hospital.
I arrived early, armed with my book. I fully expected to wait, and wait and wait. I am currently reading David Mitchell’s Slade House and rarely get more than 10 minutes uninterrupted reading, so was sort of looking forward to being delayed by at least an hour. I parked the car at about 2.30 and checked into the centre at about 2.35. The centre was completely empty, bar one woman who arrived just after me. A healthcare professional, clearly anticipating my arrival, met me at the door with a urine sample pot, which I duly filled for her.
Before I had even had time to open my book, my name was called, and I went straight in to see a doctor. My urine was tested, proclaimed choc-full of bacteria (apparently probably E-coli, which was a bit of surprise), and I even got a free mini medical lecture on how they are testing for nitrous oxide in my urine, which I think is laughing gas. I will be honest, I don’t find UTIs particularly funny, but I guess it takes all sorts.
After my blood pressure was taken, my temperature checked, and various questions asked to ascertain I had been assessed properly, I was on my way, with a prescription for antibiotics.
I was in and out of the hospital (including a 5 minute walk from the car park), within 25 minutes. I actually left the hospital ten minutes before my appointment time.
I drove to Tesco and waited for my prescription at their pharmacy longer than I had actually waited in an NHS hospital. On a Sunday. The entire thing cost me about £11 – £2.50 parking and an £8.60 prescription charge. The consultation was free, as were all of the tests.
So I would like to complain in the strongest possible terms to the NHS. I had hoped for a good couple of hours to read my book, child free. I had to tell TheBloke (TM) they were massively inefficient and I was there for hours. If you happened to see me in Starbucks yesterday afternoon, enjoying the last few chapters of Slade House, don’t tell anyone, will you?
Definitely don’t tell Americans. They hate public healthcare.