I rarely get ill or have to go to the doctor, but sometimes like the other day I’m in need of their help. On Wednesday it so happened that kitty also needed to be seen by her form of doctor, the vet, but the service we got was very different.
Just after lunch on Wednesday D called and told me that kitty had had another seizure incident where she all of a sudden can’t walk. We thought the incidents late last year were isolated events, but apparently not. This incident was worse than last time, and lasted longer.
I was still in Holland with a colleague and the clients we’re working with, but luckily due to fly home in a few hours. D called our vet and got an appointment for the spotty one later that afternoon and 40 mins after I landed back at Heathrow I was at the vet where I met D with kitty. The vet saw us without any delays, examined kitty and tried to calm her down (not too fond of vet visits that one). She answered our questions and told us what to do next.
We went back to our flat, I dropped off my bags and then went straight down to the local surgery to try to get seen or book an appointment for the allergic reaction I’m having which is causing a not so pleasant eczema like rash. It was 5.45pm and the surgery closed at 6pm. Contrary to the pleasant vet visit all I got at the GP, as it’s called over here, was a load of attitude and bureaucracy. No service, no helpful answers to any of my questions, no sign of even caring the smallest bit or wanting to listen to me. Just the same sentences repeated over and over again. “I wasn’t registered“, “I have to bring proof of address” and “We close in 10 minutes“.
The surgery is right. I wasn’t registered with them. When we moved to where we live now just over 3 1/2 years ago I kept going to my old doctor for a while. The surgery hours worked great, it was close to work and I knew my doctor and hence what I was getting. For the last couple of years I haven’t really been to the GP. A couple of times I’ve fallen ill and needed to be seen by a doctor but it’s been outside of surgery hours, meaning that I’ve had to go to the A&E in any case. As a result up until Thursday I wasn’t registered with our local GP where we live, but I was in need of their help. That’s why I came.
It so happens that my hands and arms were worse affected by the allergic reaction I’m having. When I came to the GP they were swollen and the rash angrily bright red. It was uncomfortable and itchy and I also had (and still have) it on my feet and legs. The woman at the front desk saw my hands and I told her I’d rushed straight from the airport to the vet and then to see them. As it takes me at least 1h 15 mins to get to work I came in to register and also to try to find out when I could be seen so I could let work know. But all I got was a snarky “You’re not registered with us. Until you are we can’t do anything” and then she told me off for not brining proof of address and how they couldn’t register me without it.
Again, she was right. I didn’t have any proof of address with me. With all the rushing around trying to make it on time and worrying about kitty it simply slipped my mind that I needed it. I asked if there was anyway I could be put in the system without it and bring it along the next day but there wasn’t. Instead she asked if there was any chance I could rush home and pick up my proof of address and make it back in 10 minutes. I answered that I wouldn’t be able to make it and reiterated, hoping for some sympathy, how I’d just rushed from the airport to the vet and to them to make it before they closed. She showed no sympathy or willingness to do anything to help.
As I’d never been to that surgery I asked how it worked and how I could get an appointment. To all of it she kept answering “You have to register and bring proof of address. We can’t book an appointment or see you until you’ve done that”. She mentioned something about an appointment on Saturday and told me I could go to the A&E if I wanted to be seen urgently, to which I somewhat sarcastically answered no thank you. I asked if I at least could get the forms and fill them out at home and with them in my bright red itchy hands I walked back to our flat. Angry and none the wiser, apart from that proof of address is apparently more important than providing a local citizen with some information, advice and common curtesy when they need it.
I appreciate that NHS and the vets of London deal with very different quantities and types of patients, but that doesn’t justify being treated like a dog, or actually worse. Like an annoyance taking up their time. The vets we’ve been to acknowledges that the pets we bring in our very dear to us. We’re worried and we want them to get better. Perhaps it’s different bringing in a kid to your GP. Perhaps you get more sympathy and general curtesy then.
I wasn’t seriously ill when I came in on Wednesday but it was quite clear that I could do with some medical advice. Kitty on the other hand had had a serious incident on Wednesday, but even when we’ve just come in for a routine check we’ve always been received really well. Sure, kitty is a lot cuter than I am and we pay (sometimes a lot) for the vet visits and nothing to our GP. But even so, I wish I got at least something resembling the same service from my surgery as we get from the vet when speaking about or bringing in kitty.
Image source: www.flickr.com/photos/uspn/3424391024