How to deal with the NHS

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Have you tried these ways to get seen when you need medical attention?

Dealing with the NHS can be time wasting (ours) and sometimes non-productive (for patients).

The following points have been sent in by readers, who have found ways of getting round NHS admin, and been given  better service.

Hopefully one or two points might make a difference when you are being shuffled around.

Can’t get seen because Appointments office say referral fax hasn’t been received from your GP?
Tell them to go and switch over Fax machine from Photocopy mode to Fax mode.
Recently Chelsea and Westminster Hospital swore they hadn’t received a faxed referall letter which was urgent.  After three abortive phone calls, with GP’s surgery swearing they had sent fax through, I got through to Manager of the section.  He trotted down corridor, and came back to tell me he had found fax.

It had been sent, but was stuck in machine because this was turned to PHOTOCOPY mode.  What is worrying is that in last day or so no-one had bothered to find out why the department wasn’t getting any referral letters.

Need a longer consultation with your Doctor?
You have the right to ask the receptionist booking you an appointment with your GP to give you a double appointment;  i.e. 20 minutes instead of 10 minutes
Or pay to go privately – most private doctors work on 30 minute appointment slots

Can’t get an urgent appointment for tests/scans/MRI procedures?
At Charing Cross Hospital they are experimenting with opening the department at weekends.    Considering the capital cost of the machinery, it is criminal that these departments shut down from early on Friday until Monday morning.  In USA machines work “24/7” as hospitals are private, and owners won’t have expensive equipment lying idle.  But NHS doesn’t seem to worry about cost of these.

  • So ask why your local hospital’s Imaging Dept. isn’t open at weekends?
  • And make a phone call the the Foundation Office – the one that is always trying to get you to sign up so they can tell Dept. Health they have X thousand patients on their register.  Ask them why Imaging Dept isn’t open at weekends except for urgent cases?

Can’t face the long journey to hospital for chemo treatment?
If faced with chemo, and you don’t want the long journey to the treatment centre, or would rather have one-to-one attention from a nurse who stays with you during the whole process, ask your Consultant to refer you to Healthcare at Home.  This company is now rolling out teams of professional nurses across UK, who come to your home to administer chemo, visit you at home to take bloods samples, and send a driver before your treatment with all the drugs you need for that day.  MRSA of course, is far less likely.  Of Consultants who recommend this service to their patients, 100% said they were in favour.

What can women do to stay well?
One of best doctors I know says he always listens to his female patients – they know their own body best.  So if you feel something’s wrong:

  • Get to know your body – understand what’s normal for you and what you should do if things aren’t ‘normal’
  • Take charge of you body: take regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight, give up smoking
  • Checks: examine your body and act on any unexplained and unexpected changes – don’t wait – go and see your GP.  Whether this is irregular bleeding, lumps and bumps, changes in skin or bowel habits – sometimes these things will just point to a benign condition that can be easily cured – it is better to be safe than sorry
  • Understand what screening options are open to you and take them up
  • Find Wellbeing of Women’s easy-to-read information booklet on gynaecological cancers by emailing or calling 020 7772 6400. A copy of the booklet, ‘Your Guide to Gynaecological Cancers’ can also be downloaded from the website
  • To find out more or to become a Friend of Wellbeing of Women visit

Have to go to A & E?  But don’t want the wait?
Don’t be British and ‘stiff-upper-lip’. Call an Ambulance, don’t get someone to drive you.

If you arrive by Ambulance you are seen almost immediately and jump the queue.  Last time I had to go to A & E,  I had been deliberately knocked off my bike by a woman who drove off.  This happened right in front of our local hospital, and nurses came out to help.  One of them said she was calling an ambulance, but like a fool I said it would be quicker if she would help me hobble the ten yards.  I ended up waiting four hours before being seen, and was in deep shock by the time I got to top of queue.

If all else fails
Try and get an appointment with a vet!  Animals are seen straight away – no mention of waiting times!

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One thought on “How to deal with the NHS

  1. Irene January 30, 2011 at 2:50 pm Reply

    I’ll bear these in mind when all else fails!! keep up the great work – you are relentless!!! Bless you….

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