Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bedtime or not?

OK I know I am beginning to be boring about the health service and its failings. Let me just say that in my house, when I was being brought up, devotion to the NHS was the only religion we had. If I count back I think I was probably conceived the day it came into being as I was born about 40 weeks after. My Dad probably felt like celebrating although I am not sure Mom was so keen to put the new service to to the test. I brought my kids up to worship the NHS too and let's face it apart from giving them free care whenever they were ill, free hearing and eye tests etc, it also gave me a good living and helped them through University, first houses, weddings etc.

But, and there is always bound to be a but, I have already written about how I think that the NHS has failed me in terms of diagnosing my cancer, how I am saddened and ashamed of how it treats vulnerable people eg keeping them waiting for four and a half hours to get a bed; but now the letter I have come home to gives me further cause for shame and frustration. It is the letter telling me that I have a provisional date for chemotherapy treatment, 8 February. It tells me shortly that I will be telephoned before 8.00am that morning to say whether a bed is available for me. It goes on to say that there are times when beds are not available on the day planned but that I should be assured that every effort will be made to admit me on the next suitable day. However for some types of treatment they have a very high demand for beds so it may not be the following day. I am asked very particularly to be near a phone that morning (from when they do not say, 7.00 maybe or earlier?).

There is nothing in the letter that tells me what to expect from chemotherapy, where to go if I am lucky enough to have a bed and what to bring with me. It does tell me that on the day my treatment is completed I should wait in the patient day room to be collected, ie get out of my provisional bed as quickly as possible.

So why am I upset by this? Well it just seems insensitive in the extreme, it shows no recognition of the trauma and uncertainty of being in my position and readying myself for some very unpleasant treatment; it makes me feel like an inconvenience, a bed user not a person. It gives me no information and offers me no help. It is also appallingly badly written it tells me that I will be admitted it she is able to confirm a bed is available not if one is. It also says you not your telephone number is ... and fails to cross out the option which says they don't have my telephone number so ends up being confusing.

It is sent from someone called a bed/patient co-ordinator and I wonder how much she is paid and wouldn't the money be better spent on more beds. And yes I know enough about the NHS to understand it's not a question of a piece of furniture and a pillow and some sheets but all the staff and infrastructure that goes with it but still I wonder and I am certain that even if this person is worth what we pay her, she should be trained in how to write to terminally ill people in a more sensitive and caring way and to proof read.

It will be interesting to see, if I am allowed a bed, if it will be ready for me when I get there; if not expect more ire.

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