I write this as a supporter of the NHS, which I know is full of talented and dedicated doctors, nurses and various paramedical professionals. As I’ve noted before, my beef is with the administrative layer of the service, who, in my experience to date, make each and every interaction with the NHS hellish.
These feckless process-monkeys make being ill even worse, through their fundamental lack of humanity and focus on the patients’ perspective. To them, we’re nothing but an annoyance.
Some recent examples:
Last month, I attempted to get the attention of one of five health centre administrators, while four argued over shift arrangements while the fifth studiously ignored me and instead (literally) shuffled piles of paper. I had to say “excuse me” three times before I got her attention (and a withering look thrown in for good measure). I was then greeted with “What do you want?”
This morning, calling the GP surgery to request an urgent telephone consultation, I was lectured on the appropriateness of a) calling on a Monday morning, since they’re so busy and b) requesting a telephone consulting, which is “for emergencies only”.
I shit you not.
I then had to explain that my GP had asked me to call for a telephone consultation if there was any marked change in my health after changing my medication. There was, and I did. And then had to explain all of this to one of the middle-aged battle-axes at reception, while she, after attending… let’s see… no years of a degree in medicine… was going to decide whether or not I was worthy of speaking to an actual doctor.
As opposed to negotiating with a fishwife.
I had just had a hellish 24 hours of illness and now I was having to plead for access to professional advice (as per instructions) with a woman whose sole aim seemed to be getting me off the phone.
She eventually ended our conversation by saying “Someone will call you” and put the phone down before I could respond.
Dear NHS, if you want to keep the public on your side, especially given what this government wants to do to you, I’d recommend getting your house in order and sorting out some of these admin people.
Customer service training would be a good start.