Last Saturday night I started getting stomach ache. In the early hours, I realised this was probably cystitis (such a horrible illness) and tried, without much luck, to get to sleep.
Seeking medical help on Sunday was never going to be an easy task. At 8 am, bleary and in real discomfort, I called 111, anticipating a two-hour wait for attention. Miraculously I got through almost immediately and was called back in 15 minutes. I had an appointment for 11:30 at the local hospital.
Although I had to wait until 12:30 to be seen, I came away with a prescription for antibiotics. The doctor almost apologised for giving it to me, saying that if I’d been to my normal GP, they would have sent away my sample for a proper test before handing out the pills. But, seeing that I had come to the out-of-hours surgery, I would be ‘treated’ on the spot.
Lucky, then, I had been struck down on the weekend because if I’d gone on a Monday I’d probably still be waiting for the test results tomorrow – in great pain and no sight of an ending to it. But then what does that mean for the Monday people? And surely this is an incredibly unfair system which dispenses drugs through one pipeline but not another?
I’m aware of the necessity to cut antibiotic use: I was given an alternative medicine because a lot of people are finding their cystitis is now resistant to the normal one. And I have to confess that I’m halfway through the course and I don’t see much discernible improvement yet. But I do at least have hope that there will be an end to it soon because I have the magic dosage – placebo or not. Believing someone is looking after you, I think, is a vital factor in helping you to get well.
In this case, I don’t think it’s about rationing antibiotics – it’s about rationing all medical care. In the same way as I’ve been told by my regular GP that they are no longer ‘allowed’ to forward patients for tonsillectomies or taking varicose veins out. It’s all part of the problem that means I have to wait three weeks for a routine appointment.
Why the NHS is so broken and how to fix it is a long debate but somebody needs to SORT IT OUT. Because, just like every skinted or minted mum, I don’t have time to be ill. It’s incredible how quickly things fall apart if I’m out of action. I missed two meetings yesterday – three in fact because I’d double-booked one of them. The children had to take themselves to and back from school because I couldn’t drive and the weekly shop hasn’t been done. The garden remains full of weeds and the due book review is unfinished. It all adds to the stress. Hopefully I’ll be up and running again within a few days but it would’ve taken longer without the Sunday service.
Have any NHS nightmare stories to share? Post them in the comment section below. And see our SMM guide to private medical insurance here.