04:57PM, Thursday 25 July 2019
I am a passionate supporter of the NHS but, after attempting to book an appointment with a physio, I have been left stunned by the number of pointless hoops I’ve been made to jump through.
Let me start this column with a quick disclaimer – I love the NHS and believe strongly in free healthcare for all.
However, that should not make it immune to criticism and scrutiny.
Over the last few months, I have been suffering from a minor foot injury.
It doesn’t affect me in my day to day life but it hurts a bit when I walk around.
I went to see my GP, and I asked if him if I could be referred to a physio.
He wrote me a referral form, telling me I should go and take it to the hospital myself.
A few days later I drove to the hospital and handed in the form. They told me I’d receive a letter.
A week later, I got my letter.
I opened it up and it said I needed to call a number to book an appointment.
I called and booked the appointment for late September, the earliest they had.
Why on earth was that so difficult?
Why couldn’t the GP just send the referral straight to the physio?
Why couldn’t someone just call me to make an appointment?
It seems so ridiculous and inefficient that there should be so many hoops to jump through.
Is it just a test?
Maybe it’s designed so that only those who are really suffering will have the patience to see it to the end.
If so, what a shambles.
I know the NHS is praised for how it deals with emergencies, but the majority of its patients are not suffering from life-threatening conditions, just minor things like niggling foot injuries.
In the meantime, I’ve seen a private physio twice and am already on the mend. I am lucky enough to do so, but not everyone is.
Surely a more streamlined and ‘joined-up’ process could save the institution some money – something everyone knows it needs more of, so it can do more to help those most in need.
And in some cases, the conditions of those who can’t be bothered to jump through all these hoops could get a lot worse over time, and become an even greater burden on the NHS’s limited resources a few years down the line.
No successful business would ever run this way. I know the NHS is not a business, but there are shared elements, and efficiency is one of them.
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