I thought I would leave the usual suspects in peace today. This post is for my friends and followers in the NHS.
Before I write a single word I want to make it abundantly clear that I have the greatest respect and admiration for the practitioners of the NHS, my ire and frustration are reserved for our politicians and any NHS Jobsworths there might be out there.
I believe that I have been a real, human victim of NHS Stats Fudging, and this is how it was done.
Some of you may know that I’m waiting for a hip replacement. My GP, in Welsh Wales, was particularly tardy in referring me to a specialist, and the reality is that he did nothing after my first X-Ray (over a period of years) until I began badgering him for a follow-up X-Ray to see how much the joint had deteriorated. Nothing.
Eventually he caved in and sent me for an X-Ray. No complaints here, phoned the hospital to make an appointment “can you come this afternoon?”. What’s to complain about?
The results are in, the GP says “yes it has got worse, some time within the next 10 years you will need a new hip”.
My (NHS) physio saw the same X-Ray and report and decided that I needed to see a specialist, so she badgered the GP to refer me. The new E-Referral system kicked in and worked like a dream, within a short period of time I had an appointment with a Consultant Surgeon. Another X-Ray and he decided that my cause was urgent, the joint is at risk of collapsing, a total Hip Replacement was my only option, he put me on his Urgent List, and informed me that I should get a date for surgery within about 6 weeks.
I soon received a letter informing me of a date for surgery at the end of May. Whilst I was waiting I was asked to complete a questionnaire for the “Outcomes” Department.
Unfortunately for me it all started to go wrong when I suffered a chest infection duringmy waiting period. In my naievety I saw my GP, got a script for some Penicillin and got rid of said chest infection before my surgery date.
24 hours before surgery I was contacted by a nurse enquiring about my general well-being. I thought nothing about telling her of the chest infection “but it’s all cleared up now, I had a course of anti-biotics which I’ve finished”. At that point an Anaesthetist chipped in and said I would have to wait 4 weeks from the end of my course of antibiotics before I could have surgery. Disappointed, but I accepted it, he’s an Aneasthetist, I’m not.
The very next day I received a letter from an Admin Wallah informing me that I had been removed from the list for a minimum of 4 weeks. After that time my GP could certify me ‘Fit for Surgery’ and I could go back on the list. Which is precisely what happened, and that was followed by guess what? Another date for surgery in 6 weeks time.
While I have been waiting I have been asked to fill in another questionnaire for the Outcomes Department. My previous Outcome was presumably “Removed from the list after 6 weeks”.
If the surgery now goes ahead as planned I will be recorded as having been dealt with well within the NHS Waiting Times. The reality is that outcome is misleading. I COULD have been offered a new date for surgery 6 weeks after the course of antibiotics, that would have taken care of the Anaesthetist’s 4 weeks and I could have accepted it. However, through no fault of my own I was removed from the list for 4 weeks then went back on it at the bottom again. So much for an Urgent need.
I have been told that if hospitals fail to reach rheir Target Times their funding is cut. They have had to devise methods of presenting their figures to make it appear that they are not failing to hit their targets. This is government-inspired. Thank you Mr Hunt.
The surgeon says my need is urgent, but the Jobsworths know better, and it’s OK for me to wait, just so their figures look better. After all, a chest infection is not the fault of me or the hospital. S**t Happens as they say.
If the operation now goes ahead as planned I will have been waiting for about 5 months since I saw the surgeon, but the record wil show that I only waited about 6 weeks.
I actually blame the government (there’s a surprise) for this.
“Fail to hit your targets and we will reduce your funding” sounds very similar to “Do more with less” born out of another government department’s policies.