I need a fresh batch of meds each month.

When the meds arrive, they come with a slip to re-order. When I need fresh meds, I fill out the slip and drop it at the surgery. Two days later, I go back and pick up a prescription. There is, nominally, an ID check when they hand the prescription over. I then take the prescription along to a pharmacy, where they give me the meds. Not Amazon, but seems to work.

Last month, I needed to see the nurse for a blood test. I’ve started taking a new med for my diabetes and I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t screwing my kidneys over.

I go to the nurse to get the blood test. She is trying to be as helpful as she can.

– Would you like me to print off your next prescription?

– Yes, please, would you mind?

After all, the surgery is about my walking limit, so the fewer trips I need to make, the better.

I’m happy to have the prescription, and did not notice until I got home, that she had not given me this slip, to order the next batch.

Now, presumably when I drop one of these slips off, there is some kind of process. They look me up on their system, check that I am only requesting the meds I have been assigned, check that I’m only requesting them once a month, and so on. And then they issue the prescription. Importantly, the way I get the slip to them is just to push it through their letterbox, so they effectively receive the request anonymously.

But their checks-and-balances should cater for that. The prescription will only come through if all the boxes are ticked along the way. The slips are just a bit of paper, there’s nothing “official” about them. All they do is trigger the process.

Last week, I need more meds but do not have that slip to re-order them. Not to worry, I’ll just ask the surgery to print it out, and I’ll fill it out there and then. That’ll then kick-start the process and I can get hold of the prescription a couple of days later.

So I walk up there. It is an effort.

When I got there, however, the receptionist refused to print the slip off for me. Even though, as I say, this slip merely acts as a trigger, she refused to print the slip off for me. She doesn’t know me (this is a surgery with about 10,000 patients, so how could she?)

So, even though she would be happy to receive an anonymous slip through the letterbox, she was not happy to print it out for me. So my journey was fruitless and I returned home empty-handed.

My main problem, of course, was that I only had about 5 days of meds left. As you might imagine, it is pretty important these days, that I take them. I called and managed to speak to a doctor. To their credit, they appreciated the car crash that was unfolding.

“Come straight up”. Now, two trips up there in a single day is an almost-impossible ask, but I had no choice. As it was, I needed to go to bed when I finally did get home the second time. That planned supermarket trip was cancelled.

The most important goal, this guy actually wrote the prescription, there and then. It struck me as peculiar that I had never even seen this guy before, yet here he was effectively handing the meds straight to me – obviously a very different approach to his receptionist. But the main thing was that I had my prescription.

I was still really pissed off, however It takes me such a gargantuan effort to walk up there, so when I am told that I wasted my time… People working in a doctor’s surgery, of all places, should understand that, should know better.

So I made a complaint against the surgery to NHS England, the governing body.

Now, I’m under no illusion that this complaint will go anywhere. When the NHS fucks up, it closes ranks to protect its own. But they do have a nominal complaints procedure, so if by using that channel I can improve life for the next person, it will be worthwhile.

When you make such a complaint, the first thing they ask is what your best outcome would be.

Just better training. That a receptionist realises, when they speak to a patient, that the patient might already have climbed a mountain to even get there in the first place!

Getting Rid (of an MP)

Something I’m thinking about a lot right now. For members of both the Commons and the Lords, I think that there should be a mechanism for subjecting somebody for re-election should they behave sufficiently poorly. I’m clear that, for MPs certainly (as they are elected) the people who should judge “sufficiently poorly” are the electorate themselves, but I’m less clear about how such a mechanism would work.

Because the MP’s constituents should be involved in the process, I suppose a petition would be the way to go. But there’s a technical issue in making sure that somebody who signs the petition is actually a constituent. It’s difficult to get this 100%, even if you cross-check signitaries against the electoral register. But I suppose the safeguard is that the consequences of the petition would only be a by-election, in which the incumbent would be allowed to stand, so I suppose we can get past that one.

The other thing would be, how many voters would need to sign such a petition? It’s tempting to say that the answer to that is so many percent of the number of people who voted for the MP. Except, of course, we don’t know who those people are. If we say that 75% of voters is enough to trigger a no confidence petition, then what happens in a very marginal constituency, where maybe the winner only got 50.1% of the vote? There’s 49.9% from the get-go who might be persuaded to have no confidence in the MP, regardless of the MPs actual performance. If the threshold is 75% of the votes cast for the MP (or even 95%), then that becomes achievable pretty much automatically. In fact, even if you go over 100%, the numbers would skew, say, a very safe seat.

I think if you’re going to have a mechanism for getting rid of people, you still have a petition, but you may as well pluck the numbers out of thin air. You have to fall back and say that the worst consequence is that the incumbent MP faces a by-election.

Unless anybody has any better ideas?

Complex Tasks

I hate how my stroke makes everything so much effort. If you’re able-bodied, you probably never worry about complex tasks. You know, when you want to complete A, but to do so you also need to complete B. And to complete B, you need to do C, and so on. But I do. Each of these is, to me, a task in its own right, and the thought of all these tasks makes me give up before I even start.

A case in point today. Over the last few days I decided that I’d quite like to replace the dishwasher. I’m looking online, and I think I’ve found something which is ideal, but before I buy, I want to make sure it fits in the space. Can I find a tape measure?

I’ve had loads over the years, I’m pretty sure I’ll find at least one of them in my toolbox, but that’s out in the garage, which, these days, is a major faff to open up. So I feel I can’t have a dishwasher. I wouldn’t mind, I’m sitting here with my credit card.

A tape measure would also be useful because I’d quite like to get a chain curtain to put over the back door, which will allow me to keep the door open wide, but will keep flies out. Like you might have in your local butchers. But the first thing these vendors want to know, not unreasonably, is how big the doorframe is. So, I can’t have that either.

Reminds me of that old nursery rhyme:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

O how true these old sayings are!


I’ve already had a productive morning so far, I was up at just after 7am, got straight into the shower, then dressed. If you can call tee-shirt and boxer shorts “dressed” 😄.

I was on the phone to the DWP shortly after 8am, which is when their phone lines open. When I’ve contacted them in the past, I’ve had to wait in line for an hour or so, so I’ve asked the operators whether there is a “best” time to call. I’ve been told that the best time, compared with all other times, is pre-9am. It seems to be true, as my wait today was a mere 30 minutes!

My question? Well, my PIP benefit is due for renewal. I sent the forms back a month ago, but haven’t heard anything back from them. Also, my form would have arrived a day or two after their deadline, so I wanted to make sure there wasn’t a problem in that respect. They put my mind at rest. They received the form ok, it was a couple of days late, but had been passed on to my local assessment centre anyway. Because of backlogs at assessment centres, I can be waiting 8 weeks or longer for a response (which will probably be to invite me for an interview). But, as long as the form is received, the benefit continues in the meantime, so I’m not out of pocket.

I must admit, I have heard some terrible horror stories about the DWP, but, so far, I have found them perfectly reasonable. In both their rules and their customer service. I can criticise the length of time it takes them to answer the phone, but at least it is a freephone number. And, I have the time, of course. In the cold light of day, these benefits are the thing that saves me from eating away at my savings, so really, they have to be priority #1.

I’m conscious that I’ve been in a couple of work environments where my direct colleagues have said “so-and-so is a real bastard”, and I’ve originally thought “they seem ok to me”, only to come around to colleagues’ thinking over time. But I do try and see the best side. So I wonder if there’ll be a moment like that with the DWP? Maybe I get “gold” treatment because I’ve aleays paid NI throughout my working life? Maybe I get a response which seems reasonable, just because I try to be very reasonable with them myself? My daughter, for example, has such a negative opinion of everything that I can easily imagine her rubbing people up the wrong way. I try not to – I might think it, but fortunately there is a disconnect between my brain and my mouth.

The reason my form was late, by the way, is because I’m unable to write and need to sort out a scribe to help me out. So, I’m reliant on another person, and can’t really expect their priorities to fit in with mine. I must mention this at the assessment, to see if they can help.

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