My experiences of my local NHS


My first experience with an NHS being privatised bit by bit was when my doctor referred me to a private company for physiotherapy for back pain.  The sessions were half an hour a week for six weeks. During the penultimate session the therapist decided to focus on my feet and she decided that I needed a gel insole.  I could buy them, she said, direct from the companies web page at a cost of £42.  She felt I really needed them.  I have to say that I felt like I was in a shoe shop being sold shoe polish having bought shoes! I did not purchase the insoles and instead asked for a referral to have this discrepancy with my feet checked out.  She duly referred me to an NHS podiatry service.  When I attended that appointment and was examined I was told there was a very slight difference in my leg lengths but nothing that would affect posture.  Nothing else was found to be wrong and I was told I didn’t need any sort of insole.

So not a good first experience but maybe my son’s experience would be better. He injured his knee playing ruby.  His doctor referred him to a private hospital to see a specialist.  The hospital was local but not as close as our NHS hospital and not as easy for a non driver to get to.  We had to beg help off our family.  My son saw a specialist about a month later and had a scan done a week after that. Seven weeks later he received an appointment to see the specialist to discuss the results of the scan.  The process took three months.  Meanwhile my son’s friend also had a knee injury.  He attended the same hospital but as a private patient a few weeks after my son.  He received the scan and treatment with in a few weeks.  So even when a referral is made to a private hospital NHS patients are still pushed to the back of the queue.  My son needed physio but the hospital was very difficult for us to get to and no bus from our area so we had to ask for a referral back to a more local NHS physiotherapy clinic.  There turned out to be one about three miles away.
I have another son.  He is disabled and has autism.  Up until 2014 the service he received from the NHS community dentist service was first class.  They took into account all my son’s fears and phobias about the medical profession, ensured an empty waiting room when he had an appointment and never kept us waiting.  When he needed a whole mouth x-ray they made the appointment during lunch and ensured the entire clinic was empty (!) to try to guarantee they could get the very important x-rays done.  Over a period of five years they supported my son to a point where he could actually have work done in his mouth!  A huge relief for me as his teeth are very rotten and pain was virtually constant and causing all types of upset. For me the service provided was a life changer!  In 2014 five of the community dentist clinics in the city were closed down.  The local clinic where my son had the x-rays done is now gone.  X-rays now have to be done in the hospital. I was told that as many people as possible were being transferred to ordinary dentists.  My son is still seen by the community dentist but they can no longer accommodate him in the way they used to.  Very luckily for me their outstanding treatment of him prior to this has meant that he has been able to cope with the changes.  But if we were just starting this process now I have serious doubts that my son would be able to cope with treatment.
Apart from the above the only walk in centre for about 20 miles or more around is threatened with closure.  The NHS Eye Hospital in my city is offering fast track cataract consultations and same day treatments for £1400 per eye, therefore pushing NHS patients further to the back of the queue.  At another hospital in the city the minor injuries unit is now run by a private company.  The community nursing team local to me are snowed under and having to work Sundays to try to see people in a timely fashion.  Prior to this my dad had to wait two months to have his ears syringed as he cant get out of the house to the  surgery.  Local to me a private “rehab” facility charges the NHS over £4000 per week per patient!  There are whispers that not a lot of actual rehab is necessary for a lot of the patients.  It is more or less a nursing home.  Finally something which has really upset me is that land belonging to the NHS is being sold off for development and the cash going straight to the Treasury so the NHS see none of it.  We have some local clinics on a piece of land that currently have ample parking and space to expand services as the population increases in the area.  The clinics will be left but the land sold off.  Parking will be extremely difficult.  A local Councillor says that people will be encouraged to get there by bus.  Buses are few and far between in this area!  The hospice on the site will be in the middle of a housing estate!  There will be no room for expansion of NHS services on the site.
I am sure that what I know regarding what is happening to my local NHS is only the tip of the iceberg. If the “rehab” facility is anything to go by then private companies must be draining huge amounts of tax payers money out of the NHS and into their own bank accounts.  This will make the NHS less efficient and more unaffordable.  But when I am told that this is due to an ageing population I wont believe it!  I will believe that it is because money is being sucked out of the NHS by private companies as profit.  Money that could be spent on patient care.