Everyone in politics has to be nice about the NHS! Well I'm about to have a right go at it, not all of it just the bit that was meant to look after my father.
My dad has had high blood pressure for some time. About a year ago he went to see his GP because he had developed a small blind spot in his right eye, the GP said that it was probably a mini stroke and sent dad off to have stroke related treatment. This involved a strict change of diet and a course of blood thinning drugs.
Over time the blind spot got worse, dad went to the doctor about it again, this time he was sent to an eye specialist who said that he had a detached retina. "Why didn't you get this looked at when the blind spot first occurred?" asked the eye specialist. "I did but I was told it was a stroke" answered my father.
To then find out that he needed major eye surgery which could have been treated, using non invasive laser treatment, had it been caught earlier was very upsetting for my father. As was the painful operation and recovery period that followed.
Still worse was the discovery that his lens had become opaque because of the gas that is pumped into the eyeball to push the retina back in place. The subsequent cataract operation reveled the retina hadn't repaired itself properly.
I came home from work today to find my father clearly upset. He had seen a specialist who had informed him that he was now unlikely to ever get the sight back in his right eye. My father's passion is playing golf and losing the sight in one eye has made this pastime much harder for him.
I might be over reacting! Losing the sight in one eye isn't the worst thing that can happen to someone and having your golf handicap go up isn't on a par with some of the suffering in the world, but two things about this whole episode really infuriate me.
Firstly it was all so unnecessary. Had the GP initially sent my dad to en eye specialist immediately he probably would still have the sight in his eye. The fact that he came to the doctor with a sight problem but wasn't referred to an eye specialist is quite beyond me.
The second issue was that my father was talked to and treated like a halfwit at so many stages. Medical professionals are busy people but it cannot take too much more time to explain things properly so that the patient can make an informed choice.
I am not going to use this to play the party political blame game but it is clear to me that the time pressures that the medial profession is under is forcing them to make snap judgements and rush. That is always a recipe for mistakes.
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