Worthing, Saturday, 9 May 2009


Had a rather curious experience today at the hospital in the local NHS haematuria clinic.  Of course, a private specialist ran myriad tests several months ago and it was determined that whatever renal stones I may have had have since passed into the sewage systems of England.  I having been obliged to see a private specialist because months of complaints to a GP were met with insistence that in England many months of charted symptoms are required before a referral may be made on the NHS, and even when that was done the waiting list was 70 days long (at a minimum).


My turn finally come as they have opened Saturday clinics to make up backlog, I was not sure whether to bother as I would surely have suffered sepsis by now if the cause for referral had not resolved itself.  Nonetheless, I am not one to turn down the opportunity of a second opinion in follow up albeit decidedly after retreat of renal symptoms.  Going forward I may think twice.  The ultrasound of my kidneys was performed in a professional manner and I was correctly informed of the result.  My cytoscopy was a surreal experience.


The individual that performed the cytoscopy insisted on spending several minutes prying into my nation of origin and the source of my accent but did not care to hear my medical history except to ask how many offspring I had given birth to and then “tsk” disapprovingly when I said none.  He did not want background information on family medical history, nor did he care to skim over my chart to discover the reason for my referral.  Having failed to listen to why I was there, after performing the procedure (while I was changing behind the curtain) he loudly asserted that the test had been a waste of NHS money as lack of diagnosis meant  –in hindsight– it had not been required.  He then proceeded to lecture -again I say without having cared to listen to any of my medical history or having noted my previous treatments & it being irrelevant to the formation of kidney stones- on basic hygiene practices of which any ten year old should be aware.  When I tried to stop him to indicate that his preaching was to someone who did not need it; although judging from the smells emitted daily by commuters on the train to Brighton perhaps others in the community would benefit, he continued to talk on like reading a memorised script.  Upon completion of his monologue, he turned away and I had to specifically request the results of the lab tests which he apparently thought were privileged information. 


Good thing I have the private coverage as the NHS lottery is clearly not to be relied upon to proactively protect one’s health.  Although; frankly, only two out of ten NHS professionals I have dealt with since moving to the UK would meet the standard I am accustomed to from Spain.


Perth, Wednesday, 1 August 2007


Had a “wee” accident with the knife I use to slice open my bagels today and nearly cut my thumb in half. My blood soaked through several bandages, a towel and was everywhere in the bathroom. When I’d finally gotten Neosporin on it and staunched the bleeding I called the NHS number to find out where to go to get stitches (from past experience sure in the knowledge that this is necessary when the cut is a half cm deep and traverses half the extremity of the appendage). The response from the UK NHS emergency line was sniggers and an appointment to go to the GP office (admittedly within 20 minutes).

The GP office is perpetually operated by travelling doctors as apparently there are not sufficient doctors in Scotland to have them in permanent practice. Aside – when in a previous orientation visit I asked for a dentist I was told “good luck” as there are very few dentists in Scotland, most have long waiting lists for new patients and they can decide not to accept anyone from NHS. So, sussing I am lucky to even be seen by a person of the medical profession, I go to the local GP office and am seen rather quickly by a respectful and proper young practitioner who poked at the extremity of my digit with a metallic object and when I confirmed I did still have feeling said he would not do anything further. He did not want to wash the wound lest it start bleeding again, or touch it at all since he eyed the cut from a distance of about two feet but didn’t actually confirm the depth of the laceration. He did not ask anything at all about what I’d cut myself with so I could have tetanus but who would know. When he said that here stitches are not given for such a cut because introducing a foreign object heightens chance of infection and I retorted that my father and brother are both doctors and I KNOW that in the USA or Spain this would certainly have gotten a stitch, he proffered a circular Band-Aid that didn’t even cover the surface area of the cut. When I said, “so even if you had decided to put stitches it wouldn’t have been possible to do it here” as there seemed not to be any bandaging material, he skulked off to come back with one that he painstakingly exhibited having to cut and reduce in size and said just not to get it wet and it “should pull itself together in a few days”.

I couldn’t believe that my home first aid kit is better equipped than the local GP office where supposedly I am supposed to go in the event of a minor medical emergency. The one thing I do not have though is capacity to sew my own thumb up; however, so I’ve gone to the pharmacy to buy steri-strips. Amazing to me. I understand it is not a broken bone or a missing limb, but the attitude combined with the statement the other day in my orientation visit that annual pap smears are a waste of resources and have no correlation to detecting cancer leaves me thinking I should keep my Spanish coverage and see the doctor when I go home for visits. Going to Spain for the weekend to get a crown on my molar would certainly be cheaper than paying the £400 the Coupar Angus dentist would charge (listed price but add another £40 for the “diagnosis” visit and another £40 for the placement visit) if he were to take me on as a patient. And yet health coverage is not a concern here. People are much more preoccupied with whether they will have to pay a parking meter or switch to digital….

Now that I have bandaged myself, I’m going to see Scone palace…