Reality of inefficient NHS waiting lists
After falling downstairs – happily without injury – 12 months ago, and having been accustomed to an upright posture throughout my life, I became concerned about pain in my knees leading to my walking about with a stick with a shuffling gait and resembling, I'm told, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, fearful of stepping down kerbs without someone's arm to help me.
I consulted my ever helpful GP who arranged an X-ray. This shows that the bones in the left knee are moving apart and a referral letter was sent to the Podiatry Unit at Exeter. After 12 days, although not having requested sight of the X-ray, my case was transferred to the sub-unit at Okehampton Community Hospital. I make no complaint whatsoever about the transfer as such.
My efforts to obtain an appointment at Okehampton which would lead, I am told, to prescriptions for inserts in my shoes/building up of shoes to encourage a proper posture have not met with any success. I am told that I will require an hour for examination whilst my path is blocked by a series of 30-minute appointments, presumably for those whose condition is less acute but which do wonders for the chart of published figures showing how many patients are dealt with each year and will help Okehampton to achieve success in that regard. I will have to wait, I am told, until some unspecified date in 2012. In my own profession, such delay on my part would be unthinkable.
Meanwhile, apart from continuing pain, an ever worsening condition making walking (save for staggering a few feet) impossible. I face great difficulty getting out of an armchair, or indeed any chair, leading to great strain on the arms and the upper body. I have similar problems in using the lavatory and, since I cannot get my leg over the edge of the bath, I cannot shower. About two months have already been wasted.
David Cameron spoke the other day about bureaucracy in the NHS. Urgent action, not words, with an abandonment of charts to put an end of this Alice in Wonderland system are needed. Were I able to afford it, I would refer myself to a private consultant podiatrist. Sadly I cannot. I feel that at 83 years old I, and all others similar circumstanced, deserve a better deal from the NHS.