"Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you," said the wisest of wise men. "The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon."

('The Alchemist' Paulo Coelho)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tales of the NHS

The NHS comes in for a lot of criticism these days and leaving aside the possibility, probability even, that there are forces at work determined to drive it to a slow and painful death, there are initiatives and moves afoot which aim to improve patients’ experience.
Both Keith and I have had mixed experiences of the NHS and I have not hesitated to take to the blog to complain loud and long when I felt it necessary, so it is only fair that I also mention it when things go right.
Regular readers may remember that I had a problem with my gall bladder a couple of years ago and was referred for an operation to have it removed. To cut a long and tedious story short, I spent several weeks commuting between the hospital and my GP because they and I couldn’t agree on the state of my blood pressure, culminating in my decision not to go ahead with the operation because by then, I was not suffering any ill effects and I was fed up with being shunted from pillar to post.
Fast forward to last December, when I again had some gall bladder problems and had to be referred again to the hospital, but what a change!
This time, I saw a registrar, who wanted to know why I had withdrawn from the waiting list, which I was happy to explain.
Then, I saw a nurse for my assessment (also a Welsh learner, which was nice), who, among other things, took my blood pressure and again, it was a bit on the high side. I know I suffer from ‘white coat syndrome’ and explained to the nurse that I had in fact asked my GP for a 24 hour ambulatory BP monitor, where I would be fitted with a monitor for 24 hours, which would record my blood pressure at half hourly intervals through the day and hourly at night. Unfortunately, I was told that it was ‘too expensive’ and I ‘didn’t need it.’ The nurse did one of those sharp intake of breath expressions.
“That was a bit naughty,” he said, “But it doesn’t matter because we can do that for you here.”
And so it happened that I spent 24 hours from Monday to Tuesday, trussed up to a computerised monitor, with the result that they could see that my BP is on the slightly high side but fine for anaesthetic. Obviously, if I were to need medication I would take it, but I see no reason for taking medication unnecessarily. The nurse practitioner who fitted the machine explained that the hospital volunteer group had fund raised to buy four of them, which in turn, tells its own story about NHS funding and where it ends up - or doesn’t, but that’s another debate.
So all in all, my experience this time was far more pleasant than two years ago. The staff I saw were pleasant, friendly and extremely helpful, a far cry from the rigid, ‘routine-response’ attitude the last time I was in that department.
Now, all I have to do is wait!

Thanks to the bi-lingual information sheet I was given, I have also learned that the Welsh for gall bladder is 'y goden fustl'. Don't say you never learn anything from this blog!


Cro Magnon said...

One of the things I miss most, living here, is the NHS. Every time I visit my doctor I have to pass cash over his desk, every time the nurse comes to drain me of blood I have to pay her/him cash, and every time I get a few pills from the pharmacie I have to take out a mortgage. It pains me to my y goden fustl.

Jennyta said...

Yes, I think we are not always as appreciative of the strengths of the NHS as we should be, but I wonder if the attitude towards you are 'paying' clients is different? Here, all too often, there is a 'take it or leave it' attitude which is definitely not present in the private sector.

WendyCarole said...

I don't think a lot of people will appreciate the NHS until it is dismantled and is no more. Luckily most of my dealings with hospitals have been good. We couldn't fault them when John had his y goden fustl removed last year.
I suffer from white coat syndrome too and from next Wednesday have to take my bp twice aday at home for a week. Of course I am getting stressed all ready and that will put it up. Can't win!

Flighty said...

Thankfully I've had no dealings with the NHS in recent years but two friends who have had very different experiences, one good and one unbelievably bad.
I hope that you continue to have pleasant experiences, which is as it should be but all too often isn't. Flighty xx

Jennyta said...

Don't get stressed, WendyCarole. You're supposed to be showing them evidence of your 'non-white-coat' BP! ;)

Jennyta said...

So true, Flighty. Everyone should get a decent standard of care. It shouldn't be the luck of the draw.

Dale said...

Healthcare is similar here, Jenny. Most things are covered by government-funded programmes. The pendulum is swinging here though, in favour of a two-tiered system - one for the rich and another for everyone else. Maggie Thatcher's ideas have begun to take shape here, although incrementally and very slowly. I couldn't agree more with you and Flighty. EVERYONE deserves the same high standard of care. I pray the system will serve our grandchildren as well as it's served us.

Jennyta said...

Me too, Dale. I really hope so.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

'Y goden fustl' sounds like a curse from a Welsh sheep farmer when watching Sir Tom Jones on "The Voice". I hope your gall bladder issues recede once more. It can't be very nice for you. Best wishes.

Jennyta said...

Thanks, YP. Actually 'y' is the definite article and the word by itself if 'coden' but because it's a feminine word, once 'y'' is used, the 'c' mutates (treiglad meddal or soft mutation) to become 'g'. Just thought you might like to know how well I concentrate in Welsh lessons. ;)

ZACL said...

Y Gooden Fusl (if I remember it correctly) is definitely related to Scottish lingo in tone, more the jiggled Gaelic/Celtic. The sounds I make are recognisable as local brogue, but I couldn't tell you if it would mean the same thing...in all likelihood not!

Your medical encounters this time, sound much more professional and human. I do hope the recent levels of national criticisms will become a thing of the past (agendas notwithstanding).

Take care.

Jennyta said...

Thanks, ZACL. I did learn a bit of Gaelic when I lived in Ireland back in the early seventies but there is little that is similar to Welsh, which is, however, quite closely related to Cornish and Breton.


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