Thursday, 7 July 2011

My [Son's] Left Foot

Today I’m afraid I’m going to have a bit of a moan about our great British National Health Service.  For those who don’t want to read a rant, are squeamish about pus or allergic to teenage boys and their revolting habits, I think it’s best if you depart now.

My story begins with a lazy son who, when discovering he had a ragged big toenail, couldn’t be bothered to get the nail clippers and thought it would be a much quicker option to rip it off with his teeth.  Remember those days when you were so limber you could get your foot in your own mouth?  Don’t try it now because, trust me, it hurts and you won’t get to hear the end of my story.

So … toe was sore for a while and no sympathy was dished out from horrible parents as we told him it was self-inflicted and certainly didn’t warrant a day off school - nice try, though. Then the toe began to grow, it flashed like a beacon and swelled with pus as the toenail became ingrown. “Lovely,” I hear you say.  Well, it’s with this toe we begin our NHS journey . . .

I called my doctor’s surgery to explain the problem, figuring I’d be referred to one of the nurses so as not to take up the doctor’s time with something so trivial. However, I was told that the nurses wouldn’t deal with that sort of thing either (why?) and that we would need a chiropody appointment.  “OK,” I said, “How do I go about that?”  “Well, you’ll need to come into the clinic and get a referral letter, then fill in a form for the chiropodist and wait for the appointment.”  When I asked how long we’d have to wait for an appointment I was told it could be anything up to six weeks.  “But his toe’s infected NOW, I told them.  “Oh well, best off going to the minor injuries unit at the local hospital then.”

We sat at the minor injuries unit - me, my husband, my son and his now rapidly-growing digit, for three hours.  We were seen by a very friendly (up until the point she found out my son had never been vaccinated) nurse, who cleaned the toe and dressed it - providing us with more pads and ointment to continue the treatment at home.  We were then given a referral letter to take to the hospital’s chiropody department so that an appointment could be made to deal with the nail when it had grown up a bit.  Personally, I think it’s the son who could do with growing up a bit but that’s a whole other story.

We then had to traipse through miles of corridors (my son on his sore toe!) to deliver said referral letter - whatever happened to internal mail or good old fashioned email I don’t know but, if you can make something more difficult for your patients, why not?  After a vaguely blank and quizzical look from the receptionist, and consultation with her equally bamboozled colleague, we were eventually told we would receive an appointment in the post.

Five weeks later, toe still suffering, son still moaning and us still being long-suffering parents, we received a letter telling us to call to make an appointment with the Biomechanic Podiatry Unit.   Seemed a little extreme for an ingrown toenail and why the @*&%* hell couldn’t we just have been given the number to call in the first place?

Obediently called the number to be told they had no record of my son and they didn’t really think it was the right department to be dealing with his complaint.  Well, no sh*t, Sherlock!  Friendly, perplexed receptionist said she’d call me back when she’d done more investigation.

True to her word, she called me back within the hour to say that they would see him at midday next Thursday.  The department which ‘didn’t really deal with that sort of thing,’ would see him next Thursday!

Called my doctor’s surgery again to seek advice.  Was told once again to get a referral letter and go up to their on-site chiropody clinic to fill in a form … blah, de, blah, de blah.

SO … if my son’s toe hasn’t fallen off by tomorrow, I’ve decided to take him to the Gynaecology department to see if they can sort it.  At least I could forgive them for fannying around. He’s got as good a chance there as anywhere else we’ve been offered!

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1 comment:

  1. why is it that our children just have the knack of finding ways to take up even more of our precious time as parents and adults, if he had only bothered to pick up the nail clippers!! I have girls and fortunately neither of them bite their toe nails but apparently my mother-in-law tells me that my hubby was a terror for it!!! It's good to have u on-board my blogs!!