NHS Choices or not? Not many in this case

Today I decided I needed to get my leg sorted out.  A couple of days ago I thought I’d pulled a muscle, then yesterday it was lumpy and felt bruised behind and above my ankle and at the back of my calf.  But today on waking it was hot red all up the back of my lower leg and really painful.  Having had a DVT 12 years ago, I’m always on the look out for something similar and wanted to get that ruled out.

I called 111 as wasn’t sure if I should be going straight to A&E or to the GP, and told the GP was fine for first instance.  Luckily managed to get a mid morning appointment (truly amazing when our surgery only opens 2 hours a day most of the week).  Lots of people moan about 111, but I’ve only ever had a good experience with them when phoning for N or myself.

The doctor thought it probably wasn’t DVT but because of past history, we’d get it ruled out for sure.  Then the saga began.

Obviously you can choose your hospital, but for me I’d always opt for my local one in the nearest town.  Although when the GP rang to ask who I’d need to have an appointment with and what the process was, our local hospital seemed to have no answers. He got passed from person to person, and in the end said we’d go to a different hospital.  No wonder there’s always rumours in the local paper of the hospital potentially losing departments if they’ve got no idea on basic things that I’m sure the labs there can provide given past experience.  So not really a choice then.

So it was either a trek to Oxford or to Warwick which is similar distance, easier parking, but in a different county.  I opted for the latter as the GP said he knew the team of experts there and what they would do.  Appointment with them booked, off I went.

In their outpatients, there is no reception in the clinic, you just wait (pulling a deli ticket if you’re there for blood tests) and hope your name is called out.  So I sat and waited, and waited.  People were being brought along by other nurses and told to knock on the door and were getting seen.  After sitting there for 20 minutes, I grabbed a nurse when she came out to ask what the waiting time was…and was told I wasn’t on their list!  Great.  So no idea where my appointment was booked as I was in the right clinic.

She then rushed through some data with me so I could get bloods done and off as urgent analysis, then had to wait again.  It wasn’t just me who seemed to have been forgotten, as the older lady next to me was due in 15 minutes before me.  It seems madness that they have no idea who’s turned up or who they’re due to see.  There were people going in before us who arrived much later.  Embarrassingly, I then got called in before the older lady (although I did need to ensure I could get back to do nursery pick up).

Turns out I’d be waiting an hour for the blood results (which ended up being a lot longer than that), would need to come back another day for a scan (middle of the day appointment as they only do 4 scans a day?!  So helpful for a work day that is already full of urgent meetings that I could only get in on that day), and need treatment whether it was a dvt or the other thing they thought it might be.

I was going to miss N’s nursery pick up, so had to ring round and find someone with 40 minutes to go, to pick him up and look after him (thank god for family, although nursery had seemed fairly relaxed about the change of plans!).  In the end I was there for around 4 hours which I think is disgraceful when it was a clinic I had an appointment for.  I think it’d have been quicker to go to A&E, and at least that would have been local.  Only Tuesday scan to return for, and then potentially follow ups, although I really hope they can be done at my hospital or with my GP.  I can’t really be taking time out of work to trek off at regular points for hours at a time.

So back to injecting for a bit at least, painful leg, nicely red (that’ll look lovely at swimming tomorrow), and I need to try and stop N being too lively round me in case my leg gets knocked.

Today was a bit of a joke.  I can’t really say I’ve had positive experiences of the whole NHS choices programme, as with both this and then N’s tongue tie referral, we’ve ended up at totally different hospitals.  It also caused problems me coming from another county as they couldn’t find me on the system, even though our partner surgery is in Warwickshire (although ours is in Oxfordshire).  Maybe this choices system doesn’t work, or to make it work there needs to be much better communication between.

Have you had any similar experiences with different hospitals, long waits or miscommunication?

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