I think that the British NHS, whilst having its problems, is not a bad system basically. But there do seem to be built-in problems and I feel the need to higlight these where they affect me and may effect others. Hence the letter below to the complaints manager at my local hospital.
"Dear Ms Madeley,
it seems that the gremlins in the system have it in for me this year.
I have not raised a formal complaint in this matter, yet. As I have said before I am more interested in the NHS finding solutions than anything else. That seems to be inherent in my nature.
In this case, briefly (all dates 2017):
20/01 - Optician appointment due to not happy with last (4 month old) prescription. Optician concerned of possibility of wet AMD. informs me that AMD can progress very quickly and gives me a letter for my GP asking for an urgent referral.
24/01 - This is the first possible appointment, despite my telling the receptionist that I had a letter asking for an urgent referral. GP agrees to make referral.
29/01 - GP actually submits refferal.
06/02 - (approx.) Matter reffered to PALS as an enquirey. I am eventually told that a provisional appointment has been made but the matter awaits ''vetting'' by the consultant.
10/02 - No letter of appointment as yet.
Once again it seems that the demands on the consultant's time is the bottle neck. however, in this case the matter of the patient's emotional and mental welfare could be more adversely affected than in my previous case.
Having been told, by the optician, that the patients condition could progress to blindness in a matter of days, having been given a letter using the word ''ugent'', having heard that the GP has then taking five days to make the referral and, two weeks and later from seeing the GP there is nothing from the hospital . . .
I feel sure that there will be patients who will suffer emotionally from such delays, anxiety being possible. I am, perhaps, fortunate in being practical, pragmatic and phlegmatic. I also have strong empathetic qualities, though I might look at it pragmatically I know that others might suffers.
I have actually monitored my eyes over the ten or more years duriing which I have suffered slight centre-of-vision distortion. Therefore I understand that there is a fair chance that I am not actually suffering the onset of AMD at the moment. I hope that I never do, reading and using computers is 99.9% of my leisure activity - I have no TV and the radio is a ''fill-in'' device.
I also understand the demands on the time of consultants (I am empathetic towards them as well!). My optician said there was a new ''third-party'' path for referrals, via a privately run agency (and we all hear of their poor reputations and cists) that the opticians refuse to sign up for - because it causes delays! I can only hope this is supposed to ''short-cut'' the vetting process and is run by fully trained operators with at least a smidgeon of vocational drive and empathy.
Catch 22? Perhaps the money spent on agecies might be better spent on in-house vetting staff specialised for such a task?
For the moment I will not push this further but I reserve the right to write it up for whatever use I feel might be in any way efficacious in finding a ''cure'' to this ''malaise''. This may include the media and my MP. I will be asking PALS for copies of any emails they sent or received in this case.
"PALS" Is the "Patient Advice and Liason System", a hospital department that points complaints or comments at the appropriate party and forwards the responses. It has no advocacy function.
I do not think my GP is competent to judge eye oroblems such as this, he did not look at my eyes anyway.
Also I have had regular diabetic retinopathy screening, photography of the retina. I have not yet found out if this would shiow up any AMD as well, or even if that is looked for, though retinal photography is used for that.
There is now an app for the iPhone and a hand held adaptor
(as opposed to the large, very expensive heavy duty tripod mounted job using a high end DSLR and needing a mains supply) that may spread screening for such problems.
Anyway, I am not actually panicking . . . . . . . .. . Yet!