Heart failure and other things blog 18 – Somerset nightmare

What seemed as though it would be a happy time is turning into a health nightmare because of the state of the NHS down here. I’ve been here for a week. During that time a broken tooth problem became the priority and it may or may not need to be extracted. It’s been extremely busy trying to fit some of the contents of a 3-bed semi into two large rooms and a tiny kitchen and even smaller shower room. I knew that was going to be difficult, but then I started developing fluid retention as well. I hadn’t had time in three working days since the move to register with a GP. Although my son and his wife had been here for two months they hadn’t got round to registering themselves so there was no surgery to register with.


My son looked for a surgery yesterday. The one we had earmarked was not able to take us because we were outside their catchment area. The next one he tried had appointments only on the basis of ‘ring us in the morning and we’ll see if you ring early enough for us to give you an appointment.’ There were no forward bookings, so any appointment with a GP would be purely on a lottery system and having to ring every day until the patient is lucky.


The third sounded more promising so he got the registration form. I filled it in and we both went to the surgery. I said I really needed an urgent appointment if possible, as a heart failure patient with a problem. I haven’t had a blood test done since November so I don’t know what my kidney function is like – I know it isn’t great and the medics at Shrewsbury were monitoring it. I told the receptionist I’d had some advice from Shrewsbury because of the new development but really needed to see a GP to be referred on to a heart team, similar to what I had access to in Shrewsbury.


The receptionist said she would mark my registration as urgent and pass it on to the practice manager and they would ring me with an appointment. That was at 4.30 yesterday and nobody has rung me. My third day on the extra diuretic is up tomorrow and after that I’m on my own. Apart from ringing a nurse at Shrewsbury again, who was great and did what she could, there’s nothing more they can do without knowing what’s going on – which means a blood test. As she said, there isn’t a lot they can help with from that distance.


So my next plan is that if I still haven’t heard from the local GP surgery – and God knows what their idea of urgent is – I’ll turn up the local hospital and ask them instead. It seems the healthcare in North Somerset is some kind of dreadful lottery and it’s scary having no back-up.


To be continued….

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