Anthony Weir, 04 March 2011
Firstly, a minor but important point: the name of my doctor on the hospital files is at least 10 years out of date! This does not resonate well with a patient.
Secondly, the standard appointment notification form is a sheer disgrace. Badly mimeographed, it looks as if it was worded by a trainee sometime in the 1940s. It also makes one very doubtful about the general competence of the administration.
Thirdly, I was of course referred by my (excellent) dentist for periodontal examination. This appointment went very well, and I was greatly impressed by the doctor concerned - excellent rapport, too.
When he had finished his examination, he told me that he would as a matter of form inform my dentist of his findings, but that this might take some weeks because of lack of secretarial staff.
I went myself to my dentist the next day, and made an appointment to have a wisdom tooth removed which (as she had predicted) had spread periodontal infection. This I could do, of course, without the report from the Clinic!
Some time later, an appointment notification arrived, for two appointments, one week apart, for deep periodontal cleaning:
14th and 21st February
So far, so good.
But early in January another notification arrived, peremptorialy making a new appointment on the 28th February. I assumed that this was now the first one, and that the second one would be a week later. But fortunately I checked, and discovered that the new dates were 21st and 28th February.
Hmm. Lack of intelligent communication is the problem of the times: the more sophisticated the means of communication, the more reduced the ability to communicate. It is virtually a law. And simply signing with a forename, and indeed addressing an e-mail to a patient with “Hi!” (see below) is merely vulgarly familiar, and does not engender any kind of confidence.
I turned up on the 21st and again had excellent treatment from someone described rather insultingly on the appointments form as a ‘technician’ or something like that. In any case a vague and dismissive term (I no longer have the form, alas!) What would be wrong with the word ‘practitioner’ ?
On the morning of the 28th I received a call from ‘a nurse’ telling me that the ‘technician’ had called in sick, that she herself could not make an appointment, but that I would be contacted the following day. I was (needless to say) not contacted.
The day after that I phoned the Clinic at 10.50 in the morning only to get an answering service, telling me that nobody was available, and to leave a message.
This I did. But I have not had a reply.
This sort of administrative incompetence is completely unacceptable, and completely undermines to excellent standard of the practitioners involved.
I have no desire to make further appointments with incompetents who could reduce me to tears – or to shouting down the phone.
So I will have missed the course of antibiotics which were also to be part of the treatment.
‘Back to Square One’. If only this could happen to the NHS as a whole : the whole management structure fired and re-employed according to ability. Unfortunately, bureaucracies are self-perpetuating and, like tumours, self-enlarging.
It is well known that some NHS patients suffer quite a lot of stress from maladministration, and for (let’s face it) peripheral treatment like my own, it is simply not worth it to have anything to do with the blunt (hospital) end of the service.