Friday, April 29, 2005

doctors appointments

Interesting to note that Blair was amazed, on last night's question time, that it's incredibly difficult to book a doctor's appointment in some surgeries these days. A woman in the audience told how she was not allowed to make an appointment more than 48 hours in advance (so that the surgery made their targets) and he was clearly baffled. How could he not know this was a problem for a lot of people? At my doctor's surgery no advance bookings are allowed at all - one can only get an appointment on the day one wishes to see the doctor. So I could no more make an appointment today to be seen tomorrow than I could to be seen next week. So here's what I have to do if I want a doctor's appointment.

I have to ring them at 8am to ask if I can have an appointment that day. Because I work in a different city to the one in which I live, it's always more convenient to have an appointment first thing in the morning, so I can go straight in to work afterwards. Otherwise, I can't do appointments in the daytime and getting a late afternoon one means leaving work at half three, which my boss is rarely happy about. So I ring at 8 asking for an appointment at 9, 9.30am etc. Except that I have to be on my train to work at 7.50. So what happens is I board my train to work, start ringing from my mobile at 8.01 and usually get through at some point in the next fifteen to twenty minutes. If I get through and they can see me that morning, I have to get off the train at Worthing and return to Brighton in order to see the doctor. Then go back to the station and resume my journey to work, or rather start it all over again. If I can't get through 'til after 8.30 then all the appointments for the day are gone and - unless my leg is hanging off by a thread - I just have to start the process all over again the next morning.

Utterly ridiculous - but I don't point this out as a complaint, or as evidence that there is something incredibly wrong with the whole system. I could change my doctor's surgery, for a start, which might solve the problem. I just tell it because it strikes me as absurd, topical and thus slightly comical.


Tim Rutherford-Johnson said...

Yeah, I thought that was one of the best bits of the programme too - for a moment it was like a constituency MP's surgery. Thought Blair dropped the ball a bit though - he'd have secured the lady's vote if he'd simply said 'I will personally look into it', rather than blathering. Still... the question I want answered is was Charles Kennedy tempted to 'drop one' just as his time was up, to leave an airborne present for Michael Howard when he came to the seat?

Forgive me, I may have lowered the tone. Carry on ;)

Andrew Brown said...

Hi Jonathan, what you might want to do is see if there's a walk in centre anywhere near where you work. Like this one in New Cross. I don't know how well they work but it might be less frustrating than getting on the train only to have to turn round.

Skuds said...

Those walk-in centres are really pretty good. Our kids are in and out of the one in Crawley all the time, and when I used the minor injuries unit in Guys hospital once it was fantastic - no queues at all.

But back to the Question Time topic. For me the most gob-smacking comment was Michael Howard's one about immigrants getting extra points under his points system if they want to go to Scotland. So what happens then? Does he have them electronically tagged to make sure they stay there? Or is he going to close the border with Scotland?

It sounded to me like something made up on the spot without having been thought through.

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