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Female, Daventry, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom, birthday 25th April
Joined April 2016

Yorkshire lass who grew up in York but was born in Seattle, Washington, USA.  Have dual nationality, very useful when you get of a plane full of Brits, no queuing at Immigration.

Married, two adult chidren, one of each.  

Lived in lots of places, York, Scotland, Hampshire twice and now in Braunston. 

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Status Update Sandra Ashford

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Pete Lawrence

Desperately under-funded and in need of attention. It's a travesty with such a national institution that the government should be proud of instead of preparing to sell it to private US investors. Good luck.

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Sharon Prendergast

I hope it all goes well for you. No-one want's to need medical care, but as you do, please know that every single person you come across in the NHS is thinking only of providing a good outcome for you. (and possibly wondering when they next get to have a coffee ;-0 )

I've had experience from both ends of the system and appreciate your frustrations. I recently had minor surgery which was performed safely and competently, following a series of appointments to scan and scope, to identify the cause, and to try to treat less invasively. I underestimated the recovery time because despite my training and all evidence to the contrary, I still believe I'm superwoman ;-). Yes, there were a couple of appointments rearranged, and yes the clinics all ran late. But I'm well now. And apart from prescription charges, it didn't cost me a penny.

Professionally I run my own clinics and also support the consultant to run hers at the hospital. Mine run fine as I have control over the appointment system (and a secretary). I know the patients well enough to book appropriate times for them (People with PD rarely like morning appointments, for instance) and they know me well enough to know that if they need more time than the appointment slot allows, they will get the time and the clinic will run late. They are very forgiving.

At the hospital it's a different story. They contracted out the appointment system with a view to saving money on medical secretaries. Desperately overpaid typists, they believed they were. So it's run by a private company with no clinical connection to the patients at all. Previously, if a consultant was sick or on leave, they would personally find someone to cover their clinics, rather than cancel them. There is no capacity to do this now given the medical recruitment crisis. So more clinics are cancelled than previously.

Before, if a clinic was cancelled, a medical secretary would review the patients notes, identify how urgent the appointment is and how frequently the clinician thought the patient needed to be seen, in the context of national clinical guidelines. S/he would then either create a clinic or add people to appropriate other clinics. The contractor doesn't have access to notes, wouldn't be able to interpret them if s/he did, and simply cancels one clinic, adding all the cancelled patients to the next completely free clinic (much less mouse clicking if you do it this way) which is likely to be months away. This can and does happen repeatedly to the same patients. There is no consequence for the contractor, because the people who write the contracts generally have absolutely no clue about the actual requirements of the service, or the needs of the patients.

And this contractor, when pressurised by service managers who are pressurised by targets which would be entirely reasonable to expect of a fully funded service, will 'overbook' clinics. Meaning they will just add one or two or, recently, six patients to an already full clinic. The clinician is then presented with a list at the beginning if the clinic. WTF! How do you provide a decent service in these circumstances? Those patients just do not get the time they need and often need a further appointment so it doesn't save money at all. But the patient has been 'seen' and a box ticked and a target hit and another clinician crumbles. The medical secretaries would never do this because they know what can and can't be achieved. The contractor is never confronted with the consequence.

Parking? Yes it's dreadful, and designed only to meet the needs of the private contractors who 'organise' the car parks. No hospital has sufficient parking, and it's often such a distance from the hospital building itself, which is ridiculous considering the number of hospital users who are by definition disabled in some way. But spare a thought for the staff who have to purchase a permit - yes, they pay to park at work - and still can't get a space. I don't qualify for a permit, it costs me £7.80 in parking, to run a clinic.

To the outsider (like the secretary of state for health, for example) the way hospital and health services run is a bit mad. They want to slick up the system and provide efficiency savings. They want to provide easy 'targets' that people can get a handle on and judge one service against another. They forget that these services have evolved in a certain way because the people who use them do not fit in boxes and are individuals. Comparing two people who on the face of it need exactly the same procedure can be like comparing a fish and a bicycle, and sometimes even the clinicians involved don't know what they'll need to do until they are in there with the scalpel. To pretend otherwise leads to the nonsensical thinking which currently is driving the health service into the ground.

The enemy is privatisation which is by every sensible measure more expensive and provides poorer quality care overall, and far far less accountability.

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