I’d address this personally if I knew which GP this was going to. Is it the grumpy one who told me my latest medication would have every side effect you could imagine? Or the young one I have clothing older than? Or is it the one who checked my colon? And I don’t mean read my blog posts and reviewed my grammar. Actually I hope it’s him. He was the one that shoved his finger up my bum so I feel we have a connection. I think his name is John.
For my doctor John,
I’m writing because I think I’m very ill. In the words of Beethoven, ‘oh you who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn, or misanthropic, how greatly do you wrong me. You do not know the secret cause which makes me seem that way to you.’
What is my malady? What ails me so? What the f*** is wrong with me? (Apart from my spinal issues and the fact that I’m taking 24 tablets a day to keep me from being in chronic pain?) Well, I’ll tell you what’s wrong.
I agreed with something in The Sun newspaper.
I know right? Specifically, I agreed with The Sun headline about how GP’s are at crisis point, and how some people are waiting a month for routine appointments. I agreed with this because… well. I’m one of those people.
My condition was made worse by the same news appearing in the Daily Torygraph. Again I nodded in agreement as I read the piece. Surely I should be on medication for this? Perhaps I should just be euthanised? Someone call Dignitas!
Recently went to see a chiropractor for my spinal problems. During the routine check-up before treatment he tested my blood pressure and told me it was startlingly high. He checked it again using different instruments and gave me a very concerned look. He said I should see my GP immediately. That day if possible. He didn’t give me the exact numbers because he didn’t want to worry me but, suffice to say, it worried me.
The nearest I could get to an appointment with my GP, was an appointment with a nurse who checked my blood pressure. She agreed it was high, very high, and told me to get an appointment with a GP as soon as possible. I did and took the soonest appointment I could. Which was 3 weeks and 4 days away.
The Sun piece I agreed with came from an interview with Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GP’s Council. Other newspapers reported this and it also appeared on the BBC, so perhaps my condition isn’t as bad as feared.
You see, this could be a small thing. My startlingly high blood pressure could be low on the list of priorities for a busy GP like yourself. Thing is, my health is very important to me. Plus, I’m pretty sure my kids would like to have me around a bit longer. So while this might be a minor issue at the moment, an issue which starts off as minor could well be a major problem by the time I get to see you. In the words of Dr Stokes-Lampard;
“If you’ve suddenly developed a lump, or you’ve got a funny pain somewhere, you know it’s not desperately urgent for you to see your GP today but you’d like to see a GP within a few days, you’d certainly like to see them within a week to 10 days because actually you’re worried,”
“If it’s already taking some patients two to three weeks to get in to see a GP for the non-urgent stuff, then by the time three to four weeks has passed the non-urgent stuff may be becoming urgent.”
And all of this adds up to more pressure elsewhere in the NHS as people go to hospitals instead of their GP’s. Actually I think this is a bit of competetion. Hospitals moaning because the GP’s have been. Doctors love a moan. Almost as much as teachers. But I digress…
Let me put my concerns to one side for a moment and let’s consider those with mental health issues, those who aren’t in crisis yet, but feel things are getting on top of them. They may have to wait 4 weeks to see someone, and that’s 4 weeks of worry, stress, anxiety which need not be so. Yes there are emergency practitioners to see in this case, but this isn’t always the best way for some.
So they might give up entirely, which I can understand. The process of getting through to book an appointment is difficult enough. The phone message you get, if it’s not engaged, encourages to ring back later when it’s less busy. It’s a bit “f*** off, we’re busy” if you ask me.
But if you do get through Level 1 onto Level 2, a harried receptionist asks you if your condition is urgent, and tries to get you to agree to a telephone appointment. I’m not sure how my GP can test my blood pressure over the phone. Are smartphones that clever now?
So I have an appointment. I’ve got that much. But it’s almost 4 weeks of worrying about my blood pressure, which can’t be good for my bloody bloody pressure. But should I really be worried about this?
Bearing in mind my grandfather and mum had high blood pressure, my grandfather had his first attack at 38, and neither of them lived beyond 65, yes.
I’m getting chest pains thinking about it.
So, should I die between the writing of this letter and my appointment, I’d like it known that I did try to see you, but I couldn’t. I was booked in, but it was too late.
Be kind to those I leave behind and don’t forget to water the plants.
Oh, and next time you want to stick your finger up my arse, you can at least buy me dinner first. You wrong ‘un.
Have you had problems getting to see your GP? Is the NHS in crisis? Let us know your experiences in the comments section. And thanks for reading.