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!