"The feeling of just being processed through a system was very evident"

About: Raigmore Hospital / Trauma & orthopaedics Ross Memorial Hospital / Trauma & orthopaedics

(as the patient),

In Nov 2014, I developed a painful unstable knee and was referred for physio & orthopaedic opinion by my GP. I was contacted fairly quickly by NHS Highland physio services and offered a phone assessment, which I declined. Whilst I am aware that this accepted practice in many areas, I was frankly astounded how an approach which involves the assessment of physical conditions without sight of the patient can be deemed either effective or safe. I would surmise that it's also a way of "managing" initial assessment waiting time targets.

I was offered in-person physio input within a few weeks but disappointingly my experience lacked any empathy and focus on me as an individual. I was told quite brusquely to stop limping & do the exercises by the clinical specialist whom I saw. The feeling of just being processed through a system was very evident. For example when I requested symptomatic relief (eg massage or myo-fascial release) for the muscle tension round the joint, which was my main issue, I was told this was not on offer and that the standard treatment for "a generic knee problem" was exercises.

In the subsequent months. the problem slowly improved (mainly through my own efforts) and when I eventually received my orthopaedic appointment in Sept 2015, ten months after referral, I was able to decline it because the problem had resolved. It goes without saying that a 10 month wait for initial orthopaedic assessment is entirely unacceptable and obviously exceeds the Government waiting time by several months.

I wasn't going to bother to record my experience on this site but recently my other knee became extremely painful so I decided to take a different approach and consulted a private physio. I did this reluctantly and in spite of my political objections to having to use private medical services, but felt I had no choice in the circumstances. So far, I have been treated quickly, effectively and in a very compassionate & holistic manner and the problem is on the way to being resolved within a few weeks instead of the many months which I endured with my other knee. This recent experience serves to highlight how, in my opinion I was treated in a very tardy, ineffective and expedient way by NHS services for my previous problem. In the light of this, the NHS Highland mantra of a "Quality Approach" has a hollow ring.

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