Sometimes the path through life makes us feel as if we’ve been dumped in a thicket of densely packed bramble bushes. The way out isn’t clearly visible and emerging into open space means running the gauntlet of a thousand thorns. All those thorns leave us punctured, sore and bleeding.
I and countless others like me have run the gauntlet of a thousand thorns. I had no choice in the matter and what happens next is still largely outside my own control. I’d hoped to see a garden full of flowers by now but the thorny brambles send spiky shoots in an attempt to pull me back into the thicket. This mornings attempt – potential refusal to do further risk-reducing surgery because “you can’t make next week so it will be classed as a cancellation and if you can’t make the next date offered then you won’t be given another.”
I’ve been asking about this surgery since January. I wanted it to happen in March. I followed it up in April when nothing happened only to be told I couldn’t have it in my preferred hospital because it’s no longer geared-up for someone like me. I’d suggest the downgrading of facilities in my local medical centre is not my fault. I was told I’d go on a waiting list for my non-preferred hospital where the consultant himself said they have a “major issue with beds.” I’d suggest the so-called super hospitals failure to cope with the volume of patients it now encounters is not my fault either. I provided key dates for 6 months of the year on the basis that 6 months ought to be long enough to secure an appointment. Clearly it wasn’t; I’d suggest that too is not my fault.
Last year I cancelled holiday on NHS instruction only to find procedures were delayed by anywhere between 8 and 14 weeks. In the meantime I lost my deposit and had no holiday. I didn’t sue for the costs I incurred or the failure to deliver services in a timely manner. I accepted the NHS is busy without assuming it was at fault. Why then, when I am busy (and have been waiting for 6 months) do you assume it’s my fault since I can’t drop everything to attend a non-preferred hospital where I’ll be an in-patient instead of an out-patient for a procedure that’s fairly minimal in the grand scheme of things?
If I was religious I might be blaspheming a lot at this point.
The most ridiculous part of the thorny saga? This is risk-reducing surgery, the kind that saves the State money. I will become much more expensive and a much greater drain on NHS resources if the issues I’m trying to prevent subsequently materialise. That, dear NHS administrators and penny-pinching politicians and is called economics. It seems remarkable that I can ruin my health with alcohol, cigarettes, crystal meth or ketamine and receive copious amounts of NHS treatment as well as numerous State benefits for being sick and unemployable. Ask for risk-reducing surgery backed by medical opinion then fail to be available due to prior commitments including work, (i.e. making a positive contribution to the State) and that’s it. Blacklisted.
Although I might sound annoyed about the bureaucracy and lunacy within the system I have come to know this is just the way things are. I don’t believe it’s right and I feel sorry for anyone who runs this gauntlet thinking they must obey the powers that be at all costs. However, I’m not a time-waster or a benefits cheat. I know a refusal to provide preventative surgery under the guise it’s my fault since I’m now unavailable makes no sense at all. I’d prefer to stay healthy and avoid being an unnecessary drain on the NHS but if you want to play hardball, so be it. Be in no doubt that there will be a scandal if I should become sick at some point in future when that eventuality was 90% preventable. The NHS like so many other British public services needs to take a flowers, not thorns approach. Instead of waving a big stick, making threats and taking punitive action, actively encourage people to do the right thing – take care of their health, hold down employment, gain a decent education and make a positive contribution to society overall.
There are flowers, not thorns in my garden. They’re there because I nurture them and tend them well. When they look prone to disease I treat them to prevent the illness spreading elsewhere or ruining my display. I encourage the flowers to grow by removing weeds that might otherwise overwhelm them. The practice of pruning a diseased leaf, choking weed or shrivelled bud is far more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than dousing every plant with toxic chemicals that may hold the blight at bay but never really cure it. Public services like the NHS could learn a thing or two from people who have flowers in the garden.
- Doctors facing savage cuts ‘unable to make sure patients are kept from harm’ (mirror.co.uk)
- NHS “is about to run out of cash” top official warns (telegraph.co.uk)