For years now I have had on going problems with my GP surgery, I have often considered writing about them on this blog but felt that it was possibly unfair to criticise them, I know that they are busy and mistakes can and will happen. However the problems that I have encountered over the last few days have wound me up so much that I need to let off steam, so here goes………………..
Like many GP surgeries it is almost impossible to make an appointment to see my own doctor. Usually the waiting time is at least 2 weeks, however if it is an emergency they can usually make a an emergency appointment, the problem is though that I never get to see my own doctor, I usually end up seeing a locum or another doctor who does not know or understand my condition. I have often seen doctors on ’emergency appointments’ and even though I have had a letter from my consultant asking for changes to my medication the locum has refused and gone against my consultants wishes. On other occasions the surgery miss half of my items off of the repeat prescriptions. One of the biggest problems I had was earlier this year, I had just got home following a hospital admission and my blood sugar levels were all over the place (as a result of my ever changing prednisolone dose), I was suffering massive swings from hypo to hyper and back again. I felt awful, yet it took 4 weeks to get an appointment, my diabetes nurse was on holiday and they had nobody else who could help me.
Then there is my latest issue with them. My reliever inhaler is a salbutamol accuhaler which is something that I prefer to the normal ventolin puffer. The only problem with the accuhaler is that you only get 60 blisters / inhalations and so they don’t last long. I always like to have 3 inhalers at any one time, I keep 1 with me at all times (in my pocket), 1 at the side of my bed and 1 in my car. I know that some doctors don’t like prescribing ‘spare’ inhalers but I have never had a problem due to managing to stock pile them during hospital admissions, bad spells (when I use my nebuliser more than my inhaler), good spells (when I don’t use the inhaler as much) and also when I am in hospital I always seem acquire more inhalers. Due to these reasons I have never even come close to running out, that is until now, I have not had a hospital admission for months yet my asthma has been pretty erratic and so I have had to use my reliever more than usual. Last Wednesday I suddenly realised that both the inhaler in my car and the 1 that I keep by the side of my bed were both nearly empty, that only left me with the inhaler that I keep in my pocket but that too was down to the last 20 or so blisters. I realised that I was using the inhaler approximately 5 or 6 times a day and so realistically I only had a few days worth of inhalations left. In addition to this I was going away for the weekend. I knew that my repeat prescription was due but that would only give me 1 inhaler which would still mean me needing further inhalers within a week or 2. I immediately rang my GP who said that would not take a repeat prescription request over the phone, I either had to attend the surgery in person, request them on line (though this would take a few days to process) or if it was an emergency I could contact the pharmacy. Even though I explained the urgency I was told that they couldn’t do anything else. I rang my pharmacy and even though I have had issues with them in the past they were pretty good. They were in the process of requesting my routine repeat prescription for me and so they said that if I called in they would let me have an inhaler in advance. I called in on my way home from work and I was given my inhaler.
I knew that this would get me through the weekend but I knew that I would still need more inhalers and so as soon as I got home last Wednesday evening I went on line to request further inhalers. I asked for 2 inhalers and explained why, I then also asked them to increase my repeat prescription from 1 inhaler to 2 or 3 per month.
Then today (Monday, 5 days after my request I went in) I checked on line to make sure that my prescription had gone through. To my horror I found that the request had been rejected, no reason why, no notification (a telephone call would have been nice), just rejected. Following my weekend away and some issues with my asthma I am now down to a total of 24 blisters left between my 2 inhalers. I am not due another inhaler for almost 4 weeks. So once again I have had to ring my surgery. Once again I had to explain the whole situation to the girl on reception. I was told that she would get a nurse to ring me back. A few hours later a nurse rang me, once again the nurse did not know me or my condition, I had to explain everything once again, she listened (or at least I think that she did) and then asked me, have you ever considered the ventolin puffer with a spacer, I told her that I had done that years previously, she then started going through my other medication and asked about my Xolair injections. She went on to discuss flu jabs and the likes and I became more and more wound up. She asked why I hadn’t seen my GP recently or why I didn’t see the practice asthma nurse, I explained that I could never get an appointment with my own GP and that I was under a consultant and the respiratory nurses at the hospital. I know that the nurse has a job to do and guide lines to follow but I was been treated like a 10 year old who knows nothing about asthma. She asked me how good I was at remembering to take my medication, she asked about my inhaler technique and also discussed my blood pressure. What seemed like 10 minutes passed by and still she was firing questions at me before eventually telling me that she could not prescribe any more inhalers and would have to speak to a doctor about it, following that she would ring me back to advise. That was at 3pm, the nurse rang back at 6.30pm to tell me that the doctor would prescribe me 2 more inhalers but I would have to wait for 2 days before picking up the prescription!
I know that I am partially to blame for running so low on my inhalers but for it to take 5 days and 4 telephone conversations, a pharmacy visit and an online reques, I am now told that I have to wait another 2 days, this is just not acceptable. Putting it bluntly these inhalers could safe my life and potentially been left without one is worrying.