Changing times of community healthcare in Britain

Over this weekend past my eldest daughter’s head cold turned for the worse.  Initially I was irritated. She had spent the best part of the week away from the house only to return complaining she felt really unwell just as I was winding down from the week gone. Why does she bring me nursing duty – the voice in my head kept prompting? Then I remembered I was exactly the same – always took myself off to my mum when I was unwell for some TLC.

Anyways, at almost half eleven on Sunday night, her condition had worsened. Breathing was becoming an issue. Given it was the weekend, a Sunday at that, I immediately had a sinking feeling getting emergency response wasn’t going to be easy!  So off to the kitchen downstairs to make her a home remedy I went. I know she hates this, but believe me, I didn’t fancy my chances at spending half the night in A&E at my local hospital awaiting to be triaged and only to be sent home 3hrs after with a advise to make an appointment with the GP!  I know the drill. Been at it for the last 18yrs and it only seems to get worse with every cuts to the health budget which impacts on healthcare delivery.  Even my middle daughter prefers to to put up with the pain from her juvenile arthritis rather than go through the bureaucratic processing which has become a mental aptitude test.  She is a tough cookie – but even so, there’s a limit to one’s patience and I sincerely believe the NHS has become a testing ground to one’s mental ability. This is applicable to those who work in it and those that receive service (or not) from it.

I am not sure if it is the family gatherings that have seen so many of us falling sick with some sort of virus. All I can state is that it certainly hasn’t been fun and games for the past 4 months! There seems to be a kind of revolving door for viruses visiting upon us all which  are not in a hurry to leave.

My brother’s family is so versed with the cold virus or is it the flu virus – I’m not even sure anymore what’s what. All I know is that they are constantly recovering or exchanging the degree of pain inflicted from these cyclical viruses.  it is not helped when we share degrees of frustrating healthcare support that is the norm. This is just too maddening if not depressing. I thought it was just me hallucinating from the over the counter medication or home remedies I am now too familiar with.  Listening to my brother who is now seriously down with what sounds like a chest infection and is to have some tests to rule out anything serious, I can’t help but think this is a nationwide problem. It helps also to be in the medical profession to insist to the GP to refer for tests – because if you are not, they are in a hurry to reassure and brush you off most of the time.

Gone are the days when you called your GP to report you were not well but advised you had a house full of little people who felt it was their aim on this planet to share everything they picked up from school with you. Back then. and I’m talking 90’s now, not 18th century or any time round about the plague and all that…you could call your GP, and him/her knowing your family set-up would pay you a home visit; where possible even bring you some medication to tide you over until you could personally go collect it personally from the chemist.  Now, I’m talking the 21st century whereby you call a GP and get an automated voice reading you the riot act before prompting you to press this or that number so that you speak to so and so. This can prove quite tricky when your head is not compliant with pain-free reality or pray even, can be able to speak!  Believe me. It can be a hurdle comparable to racing against Usain Bolt on any day.  

Your call to the GP surgery is further compounded by the receptionist etc..  You eventually get a human voice in real time that initially offers you an appointment in two weeks to your present crisis but who then suggest you call back at a particular time for an emergency appointment.  Now get this: when you call back at that advised time, all the damn emergency appointments have been taken! Yes. There’s a lot of persons out there in the community on a rotating emergency recall button.  

It’s like GP receptionists have been programmed to be devoid of commonsense, yet can bully you to taking what’s on the  telephone menu!  Now unless I’m mistaken of the current goings on of illness, unlike a vehicle, it is not yet possible for your body to tell or let you know it will be breaking down due to an viral infection especially and that you need to book yourself in for a check up. I don’t know and please listen up all you GP receptionists – get with the program. To my knowledge, technology is still being developed, but human microchips are not yet in the processing plant of the NHS to make your jobs easier for the patient conveyor belt. Newsflash: These damn emergency appointments which when you are truly incapacitated prove to be challenging especially when your body refuses to give you an appointment system when it will be ill.  Receptionists, you need to switch to humanoid settings and pay particular attention to the caller!  Believe me, we are not calling out of boredom to come admire the pamphlets or decor in the GP surgery! If you are the demi-gods you aspire to be, you would work it out.

Quite a happy bunny I am, NOT, you are thinking.  Well, you might see why I’m this way after the crap I’ve been dealt with this Non Hospitable Service on occasions.

Pray explain. What’s the point of calling for an appointment to see a GP or dentist when you are unwell, only to be offered a 2 weeks or 2months option. To compound this irritation to then end up at a hospital A&E and be drilled about why you didn’t see a GP first?  Where is Britain’s healthcare heading to when you see mentally ill persons roaming the streets and using buses as mobile rest points?

The health of persons is reflected on their ability to work… those in governance need to revise their health policies if they are to lay claim to the hype on getting Britain working etc and that we are all one big happy society in it together singsong.


HIV+ Synonymous with Africans in UK as opposed to any other ethnic group

It does not come as a surprise to me to note the comments made by Edwin Poots, a senior health minister in Northern Ireland about a ban on blood donations from gay people also being applied to people who have sex “with somebody in Africa or sex with prostitutes”.

It does not come as a surprise to me to note the comments made by Edwin Poots,

Mr Poots is voicing what so many persons within the healthcare industry practice without concealed discretion – only that they do not get to reach the global media exposure.

The other aspect to such voiced prejudice is that it shows the weaknesses in the system that exists with blood screening facilities which would insinuate such facilities if they exist, purely on ethnicity screening or sexual preferences! A point picked up by Mr Conall McDevitt, South Belfast SDLP assembly member, when he further concludes:

Currently all blood donations are subject to rigorous screening for a number of diseases – including HIV – and no blood is used unless it is approved, regardless of the donor. The fact is that we are in constant need of extra blood stocks in the North and this reinforces the need for the government to do all in its power to encourage as many as possible to donate rather than seek to alienate healthy donors based on prejudice. The minister’s comments perpetuate a tired mythology of cultural promiscuity in the gay community which troubles me as an advocate of a more accepting, shared society I would go further to add to defend Africans too.

The repercussions of such prejudicial/ignorant acts and words is quite harmful to Africans who being labelled as “diseased” simply because there happens to be persons who aside from escaping political persecution from their countries are also fleeing socio-economic hardships. Financial hardships make it difficult for such persons to receive medical care in their homelands. Some of you might have heard of medical tourists? Well, some of these Africans are medical migrants. It does not necessary mean that all of AFrica is diseased – simply that those able to afford to travel abroad to seek help, are the ones predominantly seen in healthcare centres abroad. Most Africans are very healthy and busy just like many other migrant workers working at building economies in these adoptive countries and their homelands and do not need added prejudicial baggage such as voiced or practiced.

Part of what prompted me to write this was a memory of what transpired to a friend of mine last year… He attended his GP surgery presenting with a rash on his penis. The GP having deduced from the initial questioning and possible physical presentation/appearance that he was black, referred him directly to an STD (sexually transmitted diseases) clinic attached to West Middlesex Hospital. Now this took place irrespective to the answered questions that my friend had been in a long-term relationship where neither himself nor his partner had engaged in sexual activities with any other persons, be it in the UK or Africa in the time-scale of their relationship or previous. My friend had in fact had an HIV test just at the start of that particular relationship which for both of them had returned negative results. Still – to be on the safe side and to adhere to his GP’s request, he attended the STD, bracing himself for further intrusive questions enough to make him doubt his current relationship in addition to his sanity. Repeated samples were sent away to be analysed for all possible STDs after once again ruling out HIV. It seemed possible (to them) the laboratory equipment was not functioning properly, as they couldn’t quite believe that this black African man with a rash on his penis didn’t have some form of sexually transmitted disease from his assumed rampant sexual behaviour or of his partner (whom they never once contacted to counsel even at the prompting of my friend). Still, they opted to treat him blindly with medication favoured for STDs irrespective of the results returning no abnormality on all occasions. His rash meanwhile was getting worse and infected…To summise, his rash eventually cleared … was found to have been down to irritants used in laundry as opposed to perceived promiscuity of his ethnic background. You might ask why he never made a complaint of such treatment – I suspect as most persons these days reason – they have become despondent with how their complaints are treated or regarded.

Now imagine if my friend had been rash to jump the bandwagon of suspicion fuelled from the medical practitioners who made him question/doubt that if he hadn’t brought the STD to the relationship, then his partner had a case to answer!