“If There Is A Need”


From the BBC ….

Vaccinations minister Nadhim Zahawi says they could open 24 hours a day, if there is need

What planet is Zahawi on ?

If there is a need ? Where does the bloody “if” come from ?

Of course there is a need. Has he not seen the news. The numbers of sick and dying increasing. The NHS bordering on collapse.

Surely the default should have been a steady increase of vaccinations to match the availability. Then steadily increasing to 24/7 provision until this pandemic is quashed.

The more people vaccinated will surely help alleviate the NHS overload.

I don’t understand our governments “softly softly” approach to everything to do with this pandemic. Slow to the harsher tiers, slow to full lock down, slow to hard border controls. And why so slow to enforcement ?

We should be giving vaccinations 24/7 now !!!

My Prostate and Me – Part 11


“See you all in six months !!!”

So said I, five years ago. A lot has happened in those five years although not a lot in the land of the prostate. Or perhaps I should say, not a lot, to my knowledge.

In 2015 we retired, and since then, we rebuilt our conservatory, holidayed in France – 2months and Italy – 8  days. We have spent 3 stints in Australia. Those 3 Ozzie visits totalled 12 months in all with the last trip stretching into 7 months, in part due to the pandemic.

And so to my prostate …

After our return from the latest Ozzie adventure, I was scheduled for a Urology Consult (telephone) 28th July. As is the norm, these are preceded by the taking of blood samples. As my GP had requested a blood sample to check my blood sugar levels, it seemed appropriate to combine them. So on Wednesday 22nd July, at eight in the morning, I presented myself at my local surgery and provided the necessary samples. I then sat back to await the consult scheduled for the following Tuesday. The next day, Thursday 23rd, I received a call from the GP surgery, could I come in and give another sample.

Apparently they wanted to rule out any potential issues with the analysis of the previous sample. As you can imagine my brain went into hyperdrive, what had the blood sample shown. I duly presented myself at the surgery and gave up some more of my blood. Although the person on the call didn’t know why I needed to give another sample, the nurse taking my blood was a little more forthcoming.

It appears the first sample showed my PSA level was up.  This second sample was to determine if there had been a balls up in the lab or if something more sinister was happening.

Friday I received  call from the surgery asking if I woud be prepared to have a telephone consult, with my GP Dr Mannings,  on Tuesday evening. I pointed out that I also had a telephone consult with the Urologist on Tuesday morning. That’s great quipped the receptionist, you’ll be able to tell the doctor what the results are and what your urologists plans are.

With all this interest in my blood and doctors left, right and centre wanting to speak to me my curiosity was definitely peaked.

So Tuesday 28th duly arrives and I have my telephone consult with the Urologist, Mr Hodgson. Yes, he confirmed, my PSA has risen.

Apparently last June my PSA was 3.6 but these latest blood tests show my PSA at 7.9 and 8.9. A sure indicator that something is going on down in the nether regions although still lower than the 13.3 which was where I was at before having the Brachytherapy

Because of this my consultant wants me to have a series of scans. CT, MRI and full body bone scan. The call is ended with the promise that I will be contacted with appointment details.

Sure enough, later in the day I receive a call from the Scanning Dept., would I be available on the morning of Saturday 1st August, for a CT scan ? Yes of course, and so I am duly booked in for 09:00.

Later the same day I have my consult with my GP. He already knew about the consultants plans but is like a child being handed a bag of sweets, so excited, when I tell him that already have the first of my scans booked.

The NHS is actually working very swiftly and efficiently. Obviously I have Covid-19 to thank for this, the hospitals are operating in a very stripped back mode. All to my advantage.

Over the next few days I receive calls and set up the remaining appointments. Monday 3rd August @ 19:00 for the MRI and Tuesday 11th August for Full Body Bone Scan. The bone scan is in two parts. I have to turn to at 11:15 for a radioactive injection. Go away for a while, then return at 14:30 for the actual scan. Apparently, after the injection, due to its radioactive nature, I have to steer clear of any pregnant women and young children Same advice I was given after I had my Brachytherapy.

I duly attended the three scans. One thing I noted is that I am able to lay completely still during these scanning sessions. They each have taken anything between twenty minutes and forty five minute. At home I find it just about impossible to keep my legs still, whether I am sitting watching TV or laid in bed. Maybe I need to get a huge doughnut installed at home.

For each of the scans I also had an injection. The one administered during the CT, I was warned, would trigger a warm sensation in my nether regions. Something akin to wetting oneself. Not something you want to consider when typically any sensation in the bladder region typically turns into a pee panic. As it happens, the sensation I felt was around the neck and up around my ear. Something like I used to feel when my Mum had caught me out in a lie. For the MRI I was given an injection of Buscopan. When I mentioned that my wife takes Buscopan for her IBS te doctor said it’s the same stuff but won’t hang around as long but that it might affect my eye sight i.e. blur my vision. He assured me it would have cleared my system before I got back to my car for the drive home. As for the bone scan and the radioactive injection I was informed that, other than having to stay away from pregnant ladies and young children, there were no side effects, that I wouldn’t be aware of it in my bod.

All that remained was for me to await the results. I assumed that I would receive a phone call from my consultant, Mr Hodgson.

I did receive a phone call, but not from Mr Hodgson. It was from a yong lady, I assume from the Urology Department reception.

She informed me that she was calling to book me in for a Pre-op Assessment !!!

My heart dropped, my stomach did a flip. “Pre-op ?” I said, “pre-op for what ?”  “Well, you came into Urology yesterday” says the young lady. “Nope” says I, “I didn’t, I haven’t had any contact with Urology since the 28th July”. “Oh !” she says “And you haven’t seen the letter ?” Again “Nope” says I, “In fact I would have expected a phone call from Mr Hodgson, not a bloody letter”. She is really apologetic and puts me on hold briefly. When she comes back on line she asks me if I want to wait for the letter, or she could read it out to me. I take the latter option. So, she reads the letter to me. My heart and stomach resume a more calm state.

None of the three scans suggest any spread of  the disease.

Needless to say, this news was not what I was expecting. Nevertheless, it was encouraging. The letter, from Mr Hodgson, set out the next steps to be taken to determine if in fact my cancer has recurred.

Those steps are

  • A PET CT
  • Template Biopsy (to be carried ot under GA and the reason for the Pre-Op)

The PET CT has been scheduled for Tuesday 25th August @ 15:00 and I have had the Pre-Op. This was in two parts. Part 1 was on Tuesday 18th, a telephone assessment which was then followed up with a hospital visit on Thursday 20th, where they carried out an ECG, swabs for MRSA and took a urine sample.

So there we are, all up to speed. I’ll post my next episode after the PET CT and when I know the date for the biopsy.

Portsmouth QA Hospital – Appalling Service


I am sick to death with the lack of response from the Queen Alexandra Hospital Eye Department, AGAIN.

My wife has been on the phone for over 10 minutes and nobody is picking up, AGAIN.

A few weeks ago, after my wife had been waiting several weeks for an appointment, she tried to phone the outpatients area. After several attempts calling on the designated number, and after I sat with the phone ringing for over 15 minutes, we gave up and resigned ourselves to the fact that we would have to drive to the hospital and visit in person.

The lady we spoke to was very friendly, expressed surprise that the phone wasn’t answered, pointing to the desk immediately behind her and the phone on it. Apparently indicating that it wasn’t out of earshot. She also mentioned that the telephone system allowed for the phone to be in use but would not show that to an external caller, allowing the phone to ring and ring and ring. Really ?

We left with promises of an appointment ringing in our ears.

We did get an appointment and following a session with the consultant another appointment was deemed necessary.

And here we are again waiting on a follow-up appointment. Supposed to have been within four weeks but here we are again, no appointment and having to do the chasing.

In fairness I should say that an appointment was offered following a cancellation, over the phone, but as we were in London my wife was not able to accept, as it was for the following morning. The person on the phone said she would arrange another appointment, but, here we are again still waiting.

Looks like we will have to go through the same cycle AGAIN.

This is appalling service. All my wife wants to do is jog someones memory that she is waiting for an appointment. Same as last time.

We may be retired but that doesn’t mean that we want to spend interminable minutes listening to the ringing tone. Nor does it mean that we enjoy driving up to the hospital, searching for parking spaces and paying the extortionate charges for said spaces.

I have nothing but praise for the medical staff in this hospital but I have to say that the administrative staff leave a lot to be desired.

How hard is it to answer the phone ?

How hard is it to follow-up and do what you said you would do ?

 

Hands Off Our GPs – NHS: A serious threat


I received an email from 38degrees and have pasted the entire message below.

Having paid into the NHS via taxes for over forty years. I have had little or no need to call on the NHS throughout my early life. So, as you can imagine, I am disgusted to find, just when I am reaching an age where I may need to the services of a GP a little more frequently, the government has an eye to limit my access and make me pay, AGAIN !!.

It is hard enough to get to see a doctor at the best of times. The last thing we need is a limit on the number of visits you are allowed.

Take a read and see if you don’t feel the same way. If you do, add your name to the petition.

This could be very serious. The Conservatives are floating plans to cap the number of times we are allowed to visit our GP. [1] If we run out of visits – because we’ve got a sickly child or long-term health condition, for example – we could be forced to pay to go elsewhere.

At the moment it’s just a proposal. [2] But if the Conservatives don’t see a big public backlash, it could soon be a grim reality. So let’s raise an outcry as quickly as possible and push them to drop the idea immediately.

Please sign the urgent petition now: tell health minister Jeremy Hunt to rule out limiting our access to NHS GPs:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/dont-cap-GP-visits

Jeremy Hunt will be watching the public’s reaction carefully. He is an ambitious politician with an eye on his own popularity. If he sees a huge petition growing fast, he’ll realise this is damaging his ratings. So if enough of us sign, we could play a key role in getting this idea dropped.

Being able to visit the family doctor when we need it is a bedrock of a decent health system. GPs are often our first port of call when we’re ill. [3] Limiting access to GPs could mean a dangerous illness is left undetected until it’s too late – unless of course you’ve got private medical insurance…

But this isn’t just about GPs. This is about a principle at the heart of our battle to protect the NHS. Since the NHS was created, everyone in Britain has been able to rely on visiting a doctor as often as we need to. Limiting access would undermine the NHS at its very foundations. So let’s send the Conservatives a strong message: drop this terrible idea.

https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/dont-cap-GP-visits

Thanks for being involved,

David, Rebecca, Travis, Blanche and the 38 Degrees Team

PS: Here’s what the chair of the Royal College of GPs said about these proposals: “This was obviously written by someone who has never been unwell, or has never met people who work in the health service.” Let’s not let the idea get any further – please sign the petition now: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/dont-cap-GP-visits

NOTES
[1] Daily Mail: Fury as Tories look to limit the number of times you can see your GP each year:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2331068/Fury-Tories-look-limit-number-times-GP-year.html
Independent: Cap on number of GP visits being considered by Tories:
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/cap-on-number-of-gp-visits-being-considered-by-tories-8632396.html
[2] The proposal is contained in a “Conservative Policy Forum” paper on NHS policy, you can see the whole thing here:
http://www.conservativepolicyforum.com/policy/local-health
[3] See for example this campaign on the importance of going to see your GP early if you could have symptoms of bowel cancer:
http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Cancertypes/Colonandrectum/Symptomsdiagnosis/Symptoms.aspx

Idiotic Outpatient Appointment Rules


On Tuesday 9th October, 2012 I had just completed an appointment with the consultant dealing with my Prostate Cancer. I left the hospital clutching the details of my next appointment.

Having elected for  “Active Surveillance” the next appointment, to review PSA blood test results, was scheduled for four months time. i.e. 11:10 on Monday 18th February, 2013

A while later, seems like a couple of weeks, I was notified that the appointment had been cancelled and that I would be advised of a new appointment in due course. Time passed, Christmas came and went and no new appointment. Knowing that I had to arrange for a PSA blood test a couple of weeks ahead of the consult and not having a specific appointment I took a punt and arranged for the blood test to be carried out on Friday 1st February.

Well time flies by when you are enjoying yourself and here we are, half way through January and I still had not heard anything regarding a new appointment.

So I contacted the Urology Department at the QA where they explained that the original appointment had been cancelled due to government and/or NHS rules and I had been placed on the Outpatients Waiting List. However, very helpfully she said she would arrange a new appointment for me.

“I have an appointment for you in February” she said.

“Monday 18th” she said.

“That’s amazing”  I replied “My previous appointment was on that day”

“What time ?” I asked.

“11:10”  she replied

“Bizarre” I responded. “That’s when my original appointment was scheduled”

“Oh I can’t give you that time” she jumps in. “The diary is showing a conflict with your original appointment even though it has been cancelled.” “I’ll have to give you another time. How’s 11:20 ?”

Obviously I accepted the new time and she said she would mail me confirmation.

So in summary, the new rules meant that my appointment had been shifted by 10 minutes, had cost me a telephone call and cost the NHS/QA  three appointment letters.

WHY ?

I can only imagine that they are applying the same petty bureaucratic rules that stop me from being able to book an appointment, to see my GP, greater than a month ahead of time.

Queen Alexandra Hospital parking charges increase comes under fire


Carillion are making money hand over fist with the contract that they negotiated with the QA authorities. I was told that the money they collect doesn’t even go into the hospital coffers, is just a contributor to Carillions £212m profits for 2011.

If that is true then it is obscene.

We, the great British taxpayer, who fund the NHS in general and the QA in particular. Most people don’t visit a hospital out of choice. It is usually because we have a health problem or to visit a friend or relative who has a health problem. Yet when we do have to visit a hospital we are fleeced.

Only this week I was talking with a neighbour, whose wife had been in the QA for six weeks pneumonia. He was paying over £8 pounds a day in parking charges.

That is criminal.

My wife works at the QA and she cannot afford to park on site as the parking charges exceed her pay which is why I take her to and from work each day. Yes she can use the staff Park and Ride but the car park on the hill is not very nice, especially during the winter when the paths and steps are icy.

Queen Alexandra Hospital parking charges increase comes under fire – Local Health – The News.