Posts Tagged ‘Choose and Book’

The end of a saga

Many moons ago I embarked on a tortuous journey through the turbulent seas of the ‘choose and book’ quest. It started innocently enough when a friendly being, the GP, laid out the requirements to complete my task. I had at my disposal a trusty computer and a telephone to aid me in my pursuit of treatment, even so I was very nearly thwarted on many occasions. The denizens of the Appointment lines placed many obstacles in my path, but I outwitted their bureaucratic maze and finally achieved my destiny. Today I set out on my final task, to be released from the gaze of a poorly organised, modern day barber’s shop. After 90 minutes of expectation I was summoned into the sanctum, and 10 minutes later I was officially a free woman and with my task completed I bade farewell to my sawbones and stepped out into the bleak midwinter.

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Tomorrow should be the culmination of my choose and book saga as I’m having my op, that’s if it’s not cancelled at the last minute. I’ve packed my bag, 3 books, nintendo DS and puzzle book being the most important elements, had my first chlorhexidine wash and will be starving from 7am.

Today we had a family meal to celebrate Joshua becoming part of our noisy pack, the grandchildren splashed around in the new paddling pool whilst Jack, son and Nanny stalked each other with water pistols. I started off with an unfair advantage in that I had a water blaster, unfortunately son wrestled it away from me and I ended up absolutely soaked and, as I was hiding in the utility room at the time, a great deal of mopping-up was required. The star of the day remained asleep for the majority of the time, good in that he allowed his Mummy to have her dinner uninterrupted, bad in that I wanted to have a photo of all the grandchildren together and we never achieved it.

If I blog over the next few days it will mean that my op was cancelled. I hope to be silent.

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Yesterday I went to London for the day. I caught several tube trains, visited a Costa Coffee and had my appointment at an hospital, no sightseeing for me. Yes, my mini-saga with the Choose and Book system has ended. It has only taken 24 weeks and countless phone calls but I have met the consultant (very pleasant) and the treatment is planned. My feelings now are that things have happened as I would have expected, if it were not for Choose and Book and government targets which gave me false impressions and expectations. Let’s scrap Choose and Book, bet it costs a lot of money, and go back to what we know and understand, an appointment through the post.

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So, having been unable to choose and book it all came back to the good old ‘they give you, or not’ , appointments system. That fell apart when they appointment offered, at a weeks notice, was for a Saturday when I was already booked on to an advanced life support study day. That was back at the beginning of September and as I have heard nothing from the London Teaching Hospital I phoned them today. Bearing in mind that the whole process has been going on since the beginning of July I had thought that apologies may be offered, I am such a numbskull and obviously inhabit an entirely different dimension to this sector of the NHS as no regrets were voiced, in fact the appointments clerk I spoke to was quite tetchy with me for presenting them with a problem. Yes, I am a problem since they have, in error, wiped me off their waiting list. The clerk admitted that they had made a mistake and then spoke to her line-manager whilst keeping me on hold for 10 minutes. This numbskull believed that when the clerk came back on the line it would be with the offer of an urgent appointment. I was worrying about if I would be able to make it, supposing that it were for a day when I was working, or I had the boys, or I was doing a school run or, worse of all, if it was during half-term when I’ve got Amy. I need not have troubled myself as I was told that  ‘ My line manager’s gut feeling is that you will have to go back to your G.P and ask for another referral to be done’. AAAAAAAH!!!!! Unfortunately I was less than happy with this solution to their mistake, and the appointments clerk was less than happy with my unhappiness. Her line manager is going to call me back, probably, at some time and tell me if his ‘gut feeling’ was right.

This whole saga has now turned into farce. A letter will be written and an explanation demanded, the system has got to be tightened up or entirely re-thought.

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I’ve grumbled and grouched about Choose and Book and its failure to fulfil my expectations but today I have turned down an appointment they offered me, and I’m gutted. Why have I been so reckless and just thrown away my chance for a consultation? Well, they offered me an appointment which I really couldn’t accept.

Today, Saturday, early afternoon the phone rang and it was the hospital I was referred to telling me that they were running a catch-up clinic next Saturday and that they were offering me an appointment at it. B****r, b****r I can’t go as I’m scheduled to attend a NLS course that day and it would be more than my job’s worth not to attend it. Anything, well almost anything, else and I could/would have cancelled but being given a place on the NLS course is important both to me and my manager. When I told the person on the phone that I couldn’t accept the appointment, and then asked how long I would have to wait for another one, she was pretty non-committal. I’ve blown it, I know I have, I’m back to the bottom of the pile and will have to wait until I’ve retired for another chance at an appointment. Choice? What choice? It really was Hobson’s choice as there was no choice and no alternative was offered. 

I shall still go back to the essence of the Choose and Book concept though, the patient chooses the hospital and then books their appointment, not in my world. In my world the G.P decides on the hospital and then the hospital dispenses the appointment, pretty much how things were before Choose and Book!

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This ridiculously tortuous system is continuing to confuse and confound me. Having failed dismally in my attempts to choose and book on-line I finally gave-up and spoke to a human being (see my previous post), I thought that I had sorted everything out, now I’m not so sure. Yesterday I received a letter from ‘The Appointments Line’, yet another off-shoot of the NHS, telling me that ‘our records show you may not have booked an appointment for your referral yet’ and telling me to ‘do so as soon as possible’. My referral wasn’t to see a psychiatrist but I’m beginning to think that seeing a shrink may be the culmination of attempting to negotiate this bureaucratic maze. Perhaps the difficulty in booking an appointment is inbuilt deliberately so as to make patients give up trying and then reducing the waiting lists.

Now, what do I do? Phone them again or wait and see?

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Choose and Book

I have just encountered another brilliant scheme to confuse and distract – Choose and Book. In this fairytale land when a patient is referred to a specialist they are given a reference number and a secret password, and the world, well at least the hospital and department suggested by their G.P, is their oyster – oh yes. Here in the real world it takes the G.P 3 weeks to generate all the secret stuff, then, armed with the keys which will allow me to ‘choose and book’ I follow the steps to arrange an appointment that suits me, or not. As it turns out I can’t choose or book as there are ‘no appointments available at this time’.  So, a couple of days later I try again and get the same message. A week passes and once again I go through the security measures to choose my appointment, same message. After 3 weeks I abandon the on-line access and phone up, they do seem to know that I have been referred, but they don’t know which specialist, and I’ve forgotten the consultants name so we are now in the realms of ‘lucky dip’. They are going to notify the hospital I need an appointment, will my G.P have told them why she’s referred me, or do I explain things? Apparently I will receive an appointment through the post within two weeks, I won’t have chosen it, and the people at Choose and Book will have booked it, nice little concept really, paying a middleman to do what the G.P and referral hospital did before whilst still involving both of them plus the patient! So, so cost effective. The nice man at the other end of the phone tells me this happens all the time as the hospitals don’t update their appointments. According to the website I should have been sent 2 letters by now reminding me to make my appointment, that didn’t happen either, this is a system failure which must be costing the tax-payer dearly.

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