Last weekend, and, infact, for several days leading up to last weekend, Carol had been complaining about some problem with one of her eyes. I wasn't sure what it was, whether it was itchy, bloodshot, or whatever, but it got so bad over-night Sunday/Monday, that she phoned in sick to the Academy. I said I'd ring the doctors' surgery and get her an appointment. As mentioned in previous posts, the system for making doctors appointments with the Grove Surgery is a mystery. You can go directly to the surgery (which is open around 8.00 a.m., so you can queue up outside if you so wish.) and then sit and wait until the receptionists open up the appointment bookings for that day. Will some one PLEASE explain to me in words of only a few syllables, why they can't open the bookings at 8.00 a.m.? Why do you have to sit and wait for 15 minutes? What ancient and strange mythological law is it that the N.H.S. has says you have to sit and wait 15 minutes? Does this allow the receptionists time to have coffee, file their nails and generally behave in a non-receptionist kind of way? It seems wasteful in the extreme. Anyway, that is what happens if you turn up in person. If, on the other hand, you decide to telephone, then you are in for a long haul. You get a very snooty recorded voice, which says, usually, that 'the surgery is experiencing heavy volumes of call, and you should ring back at another time.' The system then very unceremoniously cuts you off, without any sort of apology for this somewhat curt behaviour. You can try at regular intervals (all this kicks off at 8.15 a.m. Why? If it's any automated system, why can't you leave a message and they ring you back? There again, why doesn't this surgery have a 'Ring Back' system? This means you can press a special key on your phone's touch-pad (usually 5) and you hang up. When the queue reaches you in the system, it automatically rings you and you can speak to the receptionist and then make an appointment. The doctor's surgery at Hilltops ( our surgery when we live the other side of Milton Keynes, at Crownhill.) had this system. They also had more flexible surgery opening times, opening at 7.30 a.m. and closing at around 7 p.m. as well as opening on Saturday mornings. In fact, times to suit the patients on it's books and not to suit their staff.
I digress. I attempted around half-a-dozen times to try and get through, and then, at around 8.40, I managed to get through and make an appointment.
The appointment was for 10.40. We arrived at the surgery in good time. There weren't that many other people in the waiting room. We didn't actually get into the doctor's surgery until gone 11.00. I know it must be very hard to keep the appointments running to exactly the times you are given, but to have to sit and waste around 20 minutes seems a waste of time. Can the surgery have better reading material whilst you are waiting, perhaps a coffee machine, something to watch on the television screens, instead of the endless information about bowel cancer, not eating salt in your food, and all the material that doesn't concern about 95% of the known universe?
The doctor looked at Carol's eye, and said she'd need to do some sort of test. She produced a sort of long cotton wool bud thing from out of a drawer and proceeded to stab Carol's eye with this. She didn't say to Carol:' Excuse me while I do this. It may hurt a bit.' She just shoved the thing into poor Carol's eye. I remember when I worked as a home-carer, we were trained to warn our clients fairly well in advance if you were going to do something such as this, although we never did this sort of procedure. It was basically because in some cases you are open to abuse and it's a sort of contract between carer and client. The doctor never did this. The doctor left things that the surgery would telephone to give the results of the tests from this procedure. She gave Carol a prescription for some drops, and we left the surgery. When we got home, Carol said that her eye hurt. Not from the initial problem, but as a result of the doctor poking the eye with the cotton-wool bud thing. I have to say that I'm not exactly over-joyed by the service given at the surgery, and we've decided that we may try and find another surgery in the area.