There's been a lot of talk recently about the NHS, after Government proposals to 'save it' from collapse, or whatever rhetoric and hyperbole they were using this time. I was just reminded of this, as I've returned from spending the afternoon in the Endoscopy Suite of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield.
Usually my visits to hospital are brief, and are not normally on my own behalf: but today I was there as a out-patient. I've been suffering with acute abdominal pains for a number of months now, and tests still haven't ascertained the cause, so my GP referred me to the Hallamshire for a Gastroscopy.
It's not the most pleasant of procedures, but then I knew that before I went in today: I'd had a similar examination about 12 years ago, for similar symptoms, so it wasn't quite the mystery that it could have been. Though I must confess to feeling slightly apprehensive when a young man about half my age came out, saying it was 'possibly the worst experience of my life so far.' As it was, everything went OK: I'm now waiting for the result of a small biopsy that was taken during the investigation (and I've always said, I'd rather have a biopsy than an autopsy!). It was uncomfortable, but nothing I couldn't handle - and I've had a lot worse experiences than that in my life (I've had to chair Church Councils for goodness' sake!).
What did bother me, though, was the fact that, although my appointment was for 14:45, I wasn't actually seen until 16:05. I didn't mind too much waiting - I'd brought a book with me - but wouldn't it avoid so much tension and anxiety if the appointment time better fitted the actual time of the procedure? Surely they must know how long the preparation takes, and the paperwork, and can factor that in to the times they give for appointments. Then those who aren't as tolerant as me with waiting around might have a less jaundiced view of that great institution, The National Health Service.