Thursday, 11 June 2020

Corona Confusion Redux


A while back I wrote about the confusion surrounding my May nephrology appointment, unfortunately things didn’t get much clearer.

Getting my bloods done was straightforward; I called the GP surgery on the morning and an hour later it was done. I suspect the surgery has been pretty quiet during the pandemic (I’ve heard similar about other local surgeries). Vetting patients by phone before granting appointments, plus the advice to stay away unless you really need help, seems to have dissuaded malingerers (my Mum spent decades working in social care and believed many GP appointments were simply attention seeking).

Previously I wrote how I’d emailed the hospital to clarify if my scheduled video clinic appointment was going ahead as a letter I received referred to an in-patient appointment instead. Sadly, nobody bothered to respond to that enquiry; I should have known better than to email the NHS. However, I did receive a phone call from the Nephrology Department a week before the appointment warning I might get skipped from the list; basically, I may (or may not) receive a telephone call at the allotted time. My results would be reviewed and I might be called and if I wasn’t I’d get a letter in due course. As for the video clinic, no mention.

In advance of the appointment I took my usual home blood pressure readings and found they’d moved in to the high category over the last couple of months, I made a note to discuss with the consultant if they called.
The time of the appointment came and went, there was no phone call, then just before lunch someone from the video clinic called and asked why I hadn’t joined? Was it because I didn’t have a suitable device? I pointed out the joining instructions had never arrived, and besides it was now supposed to be a call (although by that point I obviously wasn’t getting one). They were apologetic about for confusion. I mentioned my blood pressure concerns but told them I’d speak to my GP.

So, I called the GP surgery about my blood pressure and a short while later the GP called me back, I explained how I’d been passed over and he increased my blood pressure medication with the intention of reviewing about a month down the line. Sorted.

Later in the afternoon I got a call from the Nephrology Department, apparently the video clinic had passed on my blood pressure concerns. They said someone should have called me the week before to warn I might be skipped, I said ‘they did’ and explained it had been the video clinic that had called me asking me why I’d not attended. Another apology for confusion was offered. It became clear the video clinic and the Nephrology Department had no idea what each other were doing. The video clinic is being run out of East Surrey Hospital where I usually have my appointments, but all Nephrology clinics are currently over the phone from St. Helier Hospital.  I explained my GP was dealing with the blood pressure and I would await the consultant’s letter.

A couple of weeks went by and no letter, but a new appointment for November arrived without a blood test form. This made me nervous, I’d gone from appointments every three to four months, to a whole year elapsing without seeing a nephrologist. I waited another week and called the appointments line to find out what was happening. I was assured a letter was due to be sent out and they’d raise a query about the blood test. 

As fate had it the letter arrived later that day, and there was a blood test form with it. I now know my kidney function is stable, hence the six-month follow up, but there was no mention of the test I had to confirm last year’s Hep-B vaccinations course was successful. This is a bit annoying as this test has been repeatedly missed off. Unfortunately, the blood test form was also missing half my usual tests, so that will need resolving before November. All in all, it’s been pretty frustrating! 

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