Friday, 5 September 2003

Our wonderful NHS

Peter Symms has been told that his urgent medical test will be somewhat delayed.

No news there, surely. But Mr Symms is no ordinary patient:

Mr Symms, who was once a personnel director for NHS Borders, said: "What happened is I went to my GP in May and said my hearing was starting to deteriorate. It probably goes back to when I was a seaman and was subject to a lot of loud noise.

"I got a letter back from the hospital as a result of her (his doctor's) referral saying the waiting time was 40 weeks."

Mr Symms, who is due to go to New Zealand for three months this winter, wrote to the chief executive of NHS Borders and contacted Lesley Smith, the chief audiologist, expressing his concerns.

However in August Ms Smith wrote back to Mr Symms, saying: "I have to inform you that our waiting list has now unfortunately gone over the 52 weeks' waiting time and has increased now to 90 weeks' waiting time from receipt of your referral letter.

This guy was an NHS personnel director. Had he not noticed that this kind of thing is typical in our Stalinist health "service"? Perhaps he was one of those who trained NHS staff to tell worried patients that the organisation has "to take account of annual leave etc, and all the other pressures of service provision".

"Er, Mr Safeway, why don't you have any milk in stock today?"

"Well you see, we have to take account of annual leave etc, and all the other pressures of service provision."

"OK then, I'll come back in 90 weeks."

We must be approaching the point when even the most boneheaded statists acknowledge that the NHS is not the "envy of the world" and that something else needs to take its place. Step forward Mr Safeway.