"choose and book: designed to impede access?"

About: Newham General Hospital Newham PCT

(as the patient),

I had a health problem while abroad. When I came back, I had tests which led to tests which led to tests, all of which seemed designed only for people who have no job and so are available for unpredictable waits in the middle of the workday. For one, the GP gave me a form I was to take to Newham Hospital in person during very restricted opening hours in the middle of the work day just to book; the idea is that patients would need to take another day or half day off work to return to the hospital for the appointment itself! The GP's office said that they couldn't fax the form that I'd need to bring in person to the hospital, but luckily they finally did. The hospital couldn't accept emails because its IT system is apparently so antiquated.

But this sets the scene. The NHS is free, so fair enough; you get what you pay for. After a series of unnecessary and stressful logistical nightmares like this, seemingly designed to impede access to NHS services, two 'choose and book' appointments became necessary. For each one, I had to return to my GP's surgery during their opening hours, which are not convenient for me, in order to collect a letter, which could not be posted, to obtain a password, which couldn't otherwise be provided me, in order to call an office at Newham hopsital in order to make an appointment. For one I was told to call back two weeks later because the consultant wouldn't have a chance to read the referral letter until then (?), and the other could only be scheduled in 18 weeks--that's three and a half months more, just to meet with someone who will then decide which further tests to refer me to!

There's no excuse for this lack of timely care, or for all of the barriers that restrict access to necessary healthcare. I've lived in several countries, each with different healthcare systems, so I'm familiar with other approaches to patient care. This is the first time I've needed the NHS for anything serious, and I'm utterly horrified at what seems to be a series of impediments designed to restrict access.

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