"patient experience"

About: York Hospital / General medicine

(as the patient),

You are in pain and visit an NHS hospital because it is Saturday morning and you have no access to your own GP. Consequently, you visit the Accident and Emergency Department at your local hospital, as advised by the Out of Hours Service GP on the telephone. When you are not treated, the explanation for this is that, although they are sorry, ‘they were not able or willing’ to respect your right to seek humane treatment for your suffering.

Here is the dilemma when you live in a country where the health service is tax-funded and state-run: although you cannot afford private health insurance, you would have paid to see a private GP on that occasion, except that you have no instant access to private treatment. To see a private practitioner you have to get a referral from your NHS GP. Catch 22. So you go home and endure two days of the kind of extreme pain. If this is not a human rights issue, what is?

There has to be some sick irony in this when you live in a capitalist society obsessed with providing consumers with instant access to almost everything they desire – except in my case, relief from intolerable pain, all because we have a Communist-style health service. And how many other people suffer such abuses of their fundamental rights everyday? When does an abuse of a civil right become an abuse of human rights, does anybody in this country really know?

Then when you ask for an explanation of why you weren't treated, they deny it even happened (why not? It’s not like you had any witnesses other than their staff). So you contact your MP and he asks for an explanation, and suddenly, they remember it happened. They apologise to your MP for what happened to you, but not you, because you had the nerve to complain about the lack of treatment, that you didn’t even have to pay for.

So, then they tell you, regarding the nurse who denied your right to seek relief from suffering, humiliated you, caused you to endure two days of pain and nearly made you have a nervous breakdown:

"I am sorry that Mr [name removed] felt that the Nurse thought his toothache was petty, it was not her intention to convey this message and she would like to pass on her apologies if she appeared dismissive as it was certainly not her intention to do so."

That’s no word of a lie; I have it in writing, honest.

Then my MP accepted their apology to him, completely undermining any chance of my getting an apology myself, or a coherent, articulate and rational explanation for why I was treated like a third-class citizen. I believe that this complete indifference to suffering and abuse of rights seems endemic in the authorities of this country. If we did to them what they do to us every day, we would be put in prison – think about it!

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