I go in to my GP to meet a young doctor for shoulder diagnosis. The receptionist gives me a feedback form to fill in on how satisfied I am with the treatment. The doctor has a young woman observing her practice. I think the young woman might be a student.
I’m determined not to underplay the pain I’m in. Yes, I have high tolerance but this definitely hurts lots. I tell her so, and that I’ve deliberately come in painkiller free for diagnosis. She manipulates me until I reflexively swear at her and then she refers me for an X-ray. “Go after 5 pm,” says the receptionist. “It’s less busy.” The form says that it’s open until 19.45. I fill in my feedback and go home for a few hours.
At ten past five I am in reception at the hospital. One receptionist is behind the desk.
“We’re closed now. Didn’t your GP tell you? Since September this department has started closing at 5.”
“Oh. It says later on the form…”
“We had to change it. It’s Brexit. In 2017 Theresa May sold the NHS to the Americans. Boris is no better. In two years time there’ll be no NHS unless people mobilise and they’re doing nothing. There’s supposed to be two of us here, but they can’t afford it. I’ve referred you to ED downstairs and checked you in. You can get it done there.”
The doctor is also the receptionist at ED. She is 25 minutes with a patient before she can check me in. She then takes my details and I sit down to wait. I have a feeling that I’m going to be here for a very long time waiting, but I’m still lucky enough to get this referral and by the end of the night I’m likely to have an answer. I’m curious to know what they find. The painkillers have worn off and I’ve no more with me, and after two days of relative respite the pain is back with a vengeance today. I must have slept badly on it. I wish I’d brought a book now. Because of the early closing I’m in A&E essentially, and because I was sent from upstairs I’m a low priority patient. You can wait in these places for days as a low priority patient, but it’s worth it to not have to pay for the x-ray…
It worked out quicker than I anticipated, but because the radiologist is a one woman army, working through the patients kindly one by one without a nurse or a receptionist. She was having to position me, photograph, position me photograph etc. She can’t look closely at the images herself with the time she has, so now they’ll get sent to someone for review and I’ll have to check in with my GP. Hopefully it’ll turn up whatever is wrong, as if not I’m going to be very confused. I wonder how long before I can check in with her…
It’s so understaffed. It’s such a shame. And they are all working so incredibly hard, these kind generous thoughtful considerate healing people. What have we done?