Tuesday 16 October 2007


My feet haven’t touched ground since I got home. So how come I’m retired and have so much stuff to do? This weekend our granddaughters two girls stayed for a sleep over on Saturday night, our daughters two boys slept over on Sunday night and yet another daughters two boys are staying for a week while she is in Turkey.

In the middle of all this we had a medical crisis. Following an examination the doctor was to arrange a hospital appointment. “They will probably telephone you with the appointment because of the postal strike”. What does he then do? Sends the referral letter by mail! Naturally it doesn’t reach the hospital because there is, as he quite rightly pointed out, a postal strike. Now forgive me for being gob-smacked, but for someone that purports to be intelligent, wasn't that a stupid thing to do?

By mid-morning yesterday I decided to ring the hospital and they confirm the letter had, indeed, not been received (surprise, surprise), but if we arranged to have it faxed over they had a cancellation at 04.30 pm.

“Hi, the doctor wrote for a hospital appointment, but (trying hard not to sound smugly sarcastic) because of the postal strike the hospital hasn’t received it, can you fax it over please?”

“Just a minute (lots of huffs and puffs and several minutes later) the secretary is at lunch can you ring back?” "OK".

After thinking about this I ring back. “Actually I would rather not wait until the secretary gets back, can you fax it over now please?” “OK”. That was easy.

“Hi, the surgery are faxing over the referral letter” “Do you know who the consultant is, because some consultants like to deal with their own mail and it might be in a drawer. If I know who it is I'll go and have a look?” How sensible.

“Hi, could you give me the name of the consultant” Duly given and the information telephoned over to the hospital

“Hi, have you received the fax from the surgery yet” “No” “OK, I’ll give them another call”.

“Hi, the fax hasn’t been received yet” “We’re still trying to fax it over” “OK”.

“Hi, this is the practice secretary. I have no record of you having requested this referral to be faxed. We mailed it on 11th”. Her tone was very confrontational and again I resist the urge to mention the mail strike. “No, we didn’t ask for it to be faxed, but now the hospital has not received it because of the postal strike (there I go again) they asked for it to be faxed” “Oh, I see, OK we’ll fax it”.

In the meantime the hospital receptionist entered the loop calling the surgery and me several times. Still no fax.

A simple request had resulted in dozens of telephone calls between me, the surgery and the hospital, culminating in me jumping into my car, storming into the surgery, upsetting everyone and reporting one of the reception staff.

As I walked in I heard the receptionist say to the secretary “she gave me the wrong fax number”. She then looked at me and said “You gave me the wrong fax number” ”Or maybe you wrote it down wrong?” “I didn’t write it down wrong you gave me the wrong number. Now the hospital has given me another number and we still can’t get it through. Their fax isn’t working”. So, now the hospital is included in her accusations. An increasingly heated exchange went back and forth for a while. Impasse!!

She then turned her back on me, started muttering “She did give me the wrong number”, picked up her handbag and marched off to lunch. I was furious It was quite likely that I had given her the wrong number, but I couldn’t be sure, so how could she be so sure. “I want to speak to the Practice Manager” “We don’t have a Practice Manager, do you mean the HR Manager” “I don’t know what I mean, (steam coming out of my ears) I just want to report that receptionists appalling attitude”. They got the message. I was quickly trollied into a side room and given the professional smarm treatment until I finally submitted. I don’t have enough life left in me to fight these wars anymore. That’s how they get away with it.


DogLover said...

That all rings bells! What hopeless staff doctors tend to have - trouble is, doctors have no office experience and can only hope their practice managers know how to deal with their admin.

Fax is awfully old fashioned nowadays, isn't it. But no one in the NHS seems geared up to take emails yet!


Anonymous said...

I cant believe you gave up! That's not the Ann that i know.