View Full Version : The Wonderful NHS

Professor TailSpin
4th Dec 2001, 20:11
I never realised how bad the NHS is until today.

Yesterday, after a 5 1/2 hour wait in a cold, noisy and downright depressing waiting room, I had my very sore and tender thumb examined by a Doctor. In fact, this doctor was the hospitals most senior consultant who had been drafted in to help (as there was a severe lack of doctors and nurses on duty).

This consultant told me that I had fractured my thumb in the same place as before and had done some considerable damage to the ligaments. To confirm his thoughts he asked another consultant, the Senior House Orthapeadic Consultant, to check me over as well. He had also been called in to cover the staff shortages. This consultant confirmed the injuries, and I was put in a temporary cast and referred to the fracture clinic today for further checks and to determine whether surgery would be required.

This morning I was seen by a doctor (well I think he was a doctor) in the fracture clinic after they had removed the temporary support cast. He glanced at my X-Rays, wiggled my thumb about for approx 5 secs and said "The fracture is probably just the old fracture mark, so why don't we just see if the ligaments repairs themselves in a month or so". I was a little surprised to say the least. To my further surprise, no cast or support was offered and I was swiftly 'pushed aside'.

So, on one side of the story, I have two senior consultants telling me I have a nasty injury that may require surgery, and on the other side I have another doctor who 'believes' that it'll fix itself in the end.

What I do know is that I can't use my thumb (I can't even pick up a pen!), I'm in a fair bit of pain whenever I move my thumb, it's quite swollen and my next task is to phone my local GP and get referred to BUPA to get a real diagnosis.

If they can't decide on a diagnosis for a simple thumb injury, I feel scared for anyone else going in with something far worse.

Anyone else have any bad experiences of our NHS (or private health).

[BTW: I'm sure a lot of very good people do an amazing amount of good work within the NHS - I'm not having a crack at these people]

[ 04 December 2001: Message edited by: Professor TailSpin ]

gravity victim
4th Dec 2001, 21:02
What is maddening is that one's experience can be so variable. I've had a similar saga to your thumb, involving a fracture that a junior doctor missed on an x-ray. (My brother is a radiographer and tells me that often the junior docs miss fractures that he can see, but he's not allowed to tell them!(protocol nonsense).


But - when my small son managed to fracture and dislocate his arm one evening and needed an emergency operation at 1AM, they could not have been more brilliant - (and try getting a surgical team together at midnight on BUPA!) :)

So I'm in two minds - I think they make an effort for kids, but it's a lottery.

4th Dec 2001, 23:42
An Senior House Officer isn't a consultant!

Pecking order is:

Medical Student,
House Officer,
Senior House Officer,
Senior Registar,

The chance of being seen by a consultant are very rare unless you are an in patient or seriously ill.

Trust me I was married to a doctor once!

What's the differnce between God and a doctor?
God doesn't think he's a doctor! :D

4th Dec 2001, 23:48
I know the NHS has been beaten up a bit. I guess 50 years of neglect something has to give. My experience though was briliant.
May this year sees me in Coventry studying away. I notice a boil on my stomach. A couple of days later and it has gone feral. I won't give you the full description, it wasn't pretty.
Friday night, in a great deal of pain. Te night Dr wasn't that interested and he thought it would "go away soon". Admittedly, he didn't see it.
Sunday fronts up and I have tears from the now constant pain. Pain killers weren't working, it hadn't lanced.
I get driven to Coventry A&E at 11am. I expected to have to wait a few hours to be seen so I take a few met books etc. I am seen very quickly by an interviewing sister. I show her the lovely abscess and she just about had a fit!! I am triaged to code yellow. I take my place back outside and prepare myself for the wait. As usual the waiting room was about 3/4 full with people in various states. Some alcohol induced, some soccer induced, some just appeared lonely.
Within 2 minutes I am called up and I go to the initial treatment room. My stats are measured and within 5 minutes I am seen by the registrar. He said that I had 2 choices. Carve it out now under local or wait till the evening for a general. I wanted the horrible thing out now!
Another 20 min later while we wait for a sterile room and then onto the table. Apparently, I was going into shock but the Dr moved fast and stopped it. There was a serious risk of septicemia too.
The "op" took about 10-20 min I suppose, it felt like an eternity though. Very painful even with the 5-6 "local" jabs.
Painkillers in hand I hobbled out, approx 90 min after I hobbled in.
No complaints here.
Now I have an interesting scar. :eek:

5th Dec 2001, 00:16
I am married to a lady with serious asthma. Our local GPs and hospital have thrown everything they have at it, but things are not improving.

GP tells us that he is running out of ideas, as is the local consultant. He wants a second opinion. We are referred to a London university hospital, to the professor who is the most eminent asthma specialist in the country. Four weeks from referral to appointment. Clean tidy hospital, we are seen within 5 minutes of the appointment time. We have 40 minutes of the Professor's time. He inspires confidence. He explains the options and outlines the plan for the future.

Although we have full private insurance cover this is an NHS appointment.

Yes, I know it isn't always like that, but when the NHS is good, it is very good indeed.

I recount this just to balance up the thread.

5th Dec 2001, 02:49
Well, I hope they don't keep neglecting the NHS or it's Australian version, because a lot of ppl rely on it, and I would hate to go down the way of the American system. As it stands now, where I work in a major public paediatric hospital, things are reasonable.

However, I have to say that I suspect my hospital gets a LOT of money donated to us because we are paediatrics, and it tends to tug on people's heart strings a bit more than an adult hospital. The public adult hospitals are not as lucky.

We are chronically short-staffed, and there are often nurses doing double shifts in order to maintain a safe level of care for patients - I'm not sure that working 16 hours straight constitutes a safe level of care, mind you. But we feel a sense of duty to our patients, I suppose.

I can relate many stories where doctors have missed a diagnosis (similar to the radiographer someone mentioned, sometimes as a nurse, you have to 'gently' point a doctor in the right direction), but at the end of the day, they're only human, and often going on limited information, and they are also coming under enormous pressure. The system is bursting at the seams, and something has to give.

I guess putting pressure to bear on the government of the day is the only way to improve things :)


5th Dec 2001, 02:53
Go on, reddo, let's see the scar! :D

tony draper
5th Dec 2001, 02:58
Hey Draper just remembered , he has a female cousin in Australia who is a nurse,can't be you Miss Min Drapers cuzz dwells in Perth. ;)

5th Dec 2001, 04:43
Gravity Victim said
What is maddening is that one's experience can be so variable. I've had a similar saga to your thumb, involving a fracture that a junior doctor missed on an x-ray. (My brother is a radiographer and tells me that often the junior docs miss fractures that he can see, but he's not allowed to tell them!(protocol nonsense).

is this a national policy....i work in an NHS xray department and the radiographers here put a red sticker on the film if they spot a fracture before they are returned to the doctors tp inspect!!!!

[ 05 December 2001: Message edited by: g10 ]

[ 05 December 2001: Message edited by: g10 ]

5th Dec 2001, 11:29
Have had mates with horror stories about missed fractures etc and once nearly drowned in blood when in recovery room after tonsillectomy (- lying on your back while unconcious and bleeding in the throat is not recommended) but recent experiences have been impressive.
Kids with fractures, strains, blocked guts all received prompt and good treatment, surprisingly mainly from british residents :) holidaying in our green and mouldy land.
Most recently went in with giant son who had had an adverse reaction to medication - turned him into ravening monster. By the time we got there he had calmed down but it was a quiet night and I made the mistake of looking stressed and holding hand to chest. Casually mentioned bit of chest pain and tingly arm.
Before you know it I'm on a trolley, hooked up to BP, ECG, ETC and a needle in the arm for blood sample. Took 2 hours before they let me out again (and they didn't want me to go :) ) But everything was normal and I had to get the son home.
(Now Min - no lecture please)
Yes they're human and yes mistakes can happen but jeez they've a tough job and my hat's off to 'em, nurses and doctors alike (egotistical d###heads excluded but you get them anywhere) :D

5th Dec 2001, 11:54
It's very variable, and depends where you are. In September, my cat tripped me up on a Thursday evening:by Friday I had major problems with my left hand where I landed on it. First trip to the hospital A&E got me seen and out, having been X rayed and plastered, in 90 minutes. Three subsequent appointments included a 1030 appointment where they apologised that they were running late, and yet I was still out by 1110. They then wanted an MRI scan because they couldn't decide if there was a hairline wrist fracture. Decided on the Friday, scan the following Wednesday, ten minute wait after the scan to see consultant, and get confirmation that the problem was torn tendons.

A friend had what appeared at first to be an epileptic fit while sailing round the Isle of Wight. Taken off by helicopter, and a brain tumour suspected from X rays. Back to her home in West London, and it took 4 weeks for an MRI scan to be arranged.....and three weeks after that to see a specialist and confirm the tumour was there.

She lives in the wrong part of the country....yet they want to shut our local A&E to save money.

[ 05 December 2001: Message edited by: radeng ]

5th Dec 2001, 12:58
OK, Cooda, I won't lecture you....BUT I hope they did!!! Coz you would have deserved it!! I think you should at least follow this up with your GP.... :)


Douglas Spragg
5th Dec 2001, 13:01
For the past fifteen years I have been fortunate to live in Belgium where you pay a charge to see your GP, hospital bills etc. BUT, because you pay around 10 to see your GP (you get back 8.50 from the insurance)there are no long queues, that is, I just turn up at the surgery - may have three in front of me. You certainly do not need to fight your way through some receptionist for an appointment some time the following month. I had pneumonia earlier on this year - without realising it of course!! The GP sent me to the Hospital half an hour away, by the time that I arrived, there was a team headed by a consultant waiting. I was straight into the treatment room and after tests, was told that I was being admitted - I wanted a private room, that cost me a wait of 25 minutes in the treatment room in a bed there.
The point to all this is that like in the NHS, the medical staff are generally very efficient, BUT, the free at the point of treatment don't work because of all the time wasters (see the one above about the stomach abcess and the waiting room). Charges make people think, if you are sick you pay up and get it (85%) back through the insurance. For serious stuff, the insurance pays directly.
I'm retiring back to the UK early next year and both my wife (under post operative cancer checks) and myself have no intention of submitting ourselves to the NHS other than where essential, we are returning to Brussels for our check ups etc as we have the good fortune to still have our medical insurance there.
Please can the NHS be saved by charging at the point of treatment. It can be fixed so that everyone can afford it - stop the time wasters and cut down the wait.

5th Dec 2001, 15:54
My local hospital is known to be one of the most problematic in the country and not one that I would ever voluntarily use (people dying on trolleys after 24 hour waits in A&E, a major ongoing problem with antibiotic-resistant infections, the worst staff shortages in London).

Having recently had an extremely unpleasant bout of kidney stones (oh, the pain!), I can't say a word against the place for the care and treatment I received as an emergency case. My subsequent treatment as an outpatient hasn't been quite so impressive but having seen at first hand some of the timewasters who expect the NHS to be all things to all men, I'm amazed it holds up as well as it does.

Professor TailSpin
5th Dec 2001, 16:12
This morning I tried to get an appointment with my GP, in order to get referred to BUPA. The receptionist was very nice and tried to be helpful, however, due to their only being one GP (instead of the required 3) at the practice, the earliest appointment I could book is Xmas Eve!

I'm sure the NHS could provide a wonderful service, if only they had the right number of staff to do it. I get the impression that the NHS are great when it comes to either trauma injuries or kids, but are lacking in other areas as a result of staffing levels.

All I really know is that my thumb won't work properly without hurting like hell, and there doesn't seem to be much I can do about it. Typically as well, it's my left thumb that's injured and I'm left handed.

Off to sulk in my corner... :(

tony draper
5th Dec 2001, 16:24
I wonder why the GP system in the UK isn't scrapped as it stands.
Why not base all local GP's in the local hospital, they could supply the same service much more efficiently, you could phone for a appointment at any time ,call out a Doctor when necessary.
A lot of dissatifacting being expressed in my neck of the woods re the service GP's supply now, they all seem to be more concered with running their little Surgery based businessed than the patients.
The days are long gone alas, when the Doctor was regarded as a friend almost, and knew you and your family on a personel level.
I can only speak for myself, as to my own GP, I will say little, but if I have to visit the surgery now, I prefer to see the practice nurse, you get a lot more sense out of her, and she at least shows a interest.

[ 05 December 2001: Message edited by: tony draper ]

5th Dec 2001, 17:50
I've needed to see my GP three times urgently in the last few years. The first time, I appeared at the surgery at 0843 and explained the problem. 'We can fit you in at 8:50, is that OK?'

The second time I called at 0832. My own doctor was on holiday, but they could fit me in a 0900 with another one.

The last time was a Saturday, when the surgery is for emergencies. Called at 0840, they checked that it was an emergency, and told me 10:10.

Down here in the wilds of Wiltshire, we seem to do pretty well....

5th Dec 2001, 18:44
The NHS system of only allowing patients to go to 'their' hospital or 'their' GP doesn't help with waiting times or quality of care.

If 'your' GP can't get you in for days/weeks then you can't just phone the next practice on the list until you find one that will see you at your convenience.

It's a bit like having supermarket checkouts that don't allow you to move across to a shorter queue. Bad luck if 'your' queue just happens to be the one that's chockers until January while the queue 3 checkouts over has 2 people in it.

The practice of disallowing patient choice between hospitals coupled with lack of information about which hospitals have the best treatment record vs. the worst turns the system into a postcode lottery.

Really great if you have a specific disease/illness & your postcode gets you into the pre-eminent hospital for that problem. Not great if you have some other illness & your postcode entitles(?) you to the worst hospital for that problem.

I think allowing free roaming with resources biased towards better performers will promote best practice, This would force mediocre treatment centres - at any level of care eg GP practice to public hospital to specialists - to catch up with the leaders. Otherwise they lose patients & go broke.

gravity victim
5th Dec 2001, 19:21
Good ideas here - how about a 'ten conditions or less' checkout, which would get me ahead of most of the whinging old hypochondriacs who seem to live in the waiting room, presumably for a warm-up, a run through the ancient Readers Digests and the orgasmic finale of a twenty-minute monologue about themselves to an overworked GP. :mad:

6th Dec 2001, 07:04
's ok Min
Stress test showed good heart/lousy lungs :D

Margaret Thatcher
6th Dec 2001, 15:54
"Mr" Tailspin.

Margaret Thatcher says:

In my day you'd just have chopped it off and kept on working down Pit.

Did you ever hear Norman Tebbit complaining about a sore thumb ?

Too soft, the lot of you. If you put me back into power I'd have you all up against the wall.

:eek: :eek: :D

Professor TailSpin
6th Dec 2001, 16:12
Soft? No chance, carrying on with a stiff upper lip ignoring the pain is what I'm doing.

Just thought that in this 'modern' age, we didn't have to chop off the bits that hurt, owing to our wonderful NHS service.

Also, makes it harder to earn dosh for the company when I can't pick up a pen or use my thumb to press the space key on the keyboard. It's not always easy for us capitalists. Come back Maggie and save us all!

[Editorial note - this is not a political statement as they are not allowed in this forum anymore]

6th Dec 2001, 20:20
Gotta agree with Mr Draper about GPs.

I cant believe it takes 'em 48hrs to sign a prescription!
And yes, the practice nurse seems to know a lot more about asthma than the idiot GP who had a pop at me one Sat am when I needed an inhaler prescription signing. "Its not an emergency, man!!". Ok then, I'll just call an ambulance if I have an attack then. that'll save the NHS money, won't it..... NOT!!! :mad:

Also, Tinny has good idea about being able to go to other surgieries for better treatment, but now we are in the EU, why not just go abroad.....?

Stelios.....MOL...you listening....!!!! :D

[ 06 December 2001: Message edited by: swashplate ]

7th Dec 2001, 00:14
Ooh, I miss the NHS (not) ... well actually, they always seem to do real emergency stuff OK.

The real difference in the USA is at the "GP" end (primary care physician, as they call them here). In UK a GP has a very short time for each patient. Appointments here are a minimum of 30 minutes long and all is very relaxed and friendly. They always take "vitals" (BP, temp, weight - aargh!) etc. Downside of course is that he charges 60 USD minimum... You definitely need insurance here!

Wee Ali
7th Dec 2001, 07:28
I qualified as a doctor 6 years ago.I gave up the chance of a BA sponsorship to do this.My time at University cost my frankly poor family most of their savings,but they were thrilled when I qualified,as was I.I genuinely looked forward to helping people & hoped to become a surgeon.Six years on I can only say becoming a doctor was the biggest mistake of my whole life & wish I'd failed my bloody highers so it could never have happened.
The NHS treats its employees like s**t.For five of the six years I worked in hospital medicine I worked for at least 80 hours per week,often for well over 100.On call rooms were often unheated,filthy & one was so badly infested with fleas that everything in it had to be burned.It took six visits to the management,showing them our purulent flea bites before they bothered to do anything.
As it was,we would change the lightbulbs in the on call rooms & in the wards ourselves as it took the Estates Dept 48h to do it.We'd often bring in our own sleeping bags as the bedlinen was unchanged for days & the thought of coming into contact with eveybody else's bodily secretions (often days old) would make you ill.It was well known the rotas we worked were illegal;we were repeatedly warned by the consultants we wouldn't get a reference for other jobs if we complained.We spent hours on useless paperwork,form filling & menial clinical work & in my six months as a junior house surgeon I was in theatre twice.
The 'nice' view is that caring for the sick should make up for all this.Perhaps it would if the sick did not falsify complaints,attempt to assault you on an almost daily basis,take no responsibility for their selfish,antisocial & generally prurient behaviour,make 'amusing' little threats about legal action the minute you introduce yourself as a doctor & generally treat you as some kind of social funded public servant there to cater to every ridiculous whim.
I have had ribs broken by drunks,threatened with needles by drug addicts when I refused them drugs,had handfuls of hair pulled out by screeching teenagers high on E's & been told to '**** off' by 2 year old children,much to the amusement of their idiot parents.Not once has there been any redress.Recently my (5 foot tall,female) friend was punched by a drunk in A&E.She did not retaliate,but told him to f-off,quite understandably.A few days later she received a letter from the hospital management ordering her to apologise,as this odious piece of keech had made a complaint about her 'attitude'.She resigned instead.
The NHS is so crippled by cronyism,political correctness & ridiculous complaints that underfunding & inefficiency really doesn't make much difference.It is a truly dreadful employer & the day I leave it will be the happiest day of my life.Two people from my year at medical school have already given up medicine for flying careers,one a GP,the other a gynaecologist & I cannot wait to join them..I spent a year as a GP myself & quite frankly I'd rather jump under a train than do it for the rest of my life..
Believe me,people within the NHS are very deeply pissed off.The sad thing is I don't think anyone gives a damn.