Thursday, 7 April 2011


So the coalition is going to pause and listen or maybe even admend its current National Health Service reforms. Some don't like them but I suspect the real problem is that most of the public don't understand them. Unfortunately I count myself amongst those. From what I've seen there is little true accountability visible from where the patient currently sits. I really don't understand who or which authority is ultimately responsible for my treatment. Here's a list of the people and places I've encountered as I've passed along my cancer treatment journey.

I started with the my GP, and then had Xrays and scans at the local hospital. A chest consultant then took over. I had two biopsy procedures - one on my thyroid, one on my lung - at my local hospital; let's call that Hospital 1. Both biopsy procedures were "inconclusive" so I was packed off to see a thoracic surgeon at a hospital in another health authority and some distance away; let's call that Hospital 2. With a firm diagnosis I returned to a consultation conducted at Hospital 1, but with an oncologist from Hospital 3 which is situated in a neighbouring town but another different health authority. This is where I now receive my chemotherapy and will undergo radiotherapy.

All these consultants write letters to my GP and I'm sent a copy. But who ultimately is in charge of my care? I don't actually know. I have a little booklet outlining my care and how all these different centres, surgeons and consultants relate to me and how I (in theory) have a link nurse who will solve all my problems. The link nurse system doesn't appear to work properly. From experience I know I have to sort out my own difficulties.

So who is in charge of me - who is accountable? Is it my own local health authority? Is it my GP? Is it Hospital 1 or Hospital 3? I'm inclined to think that I'd be much happier if it was my GP, because at least I know where to find him and it's relatively easy to get to see him face-to-face. But do I know enough about it all even to hold an opinion?

I'm going to copy this blog to my MP and see what he has to say about it.

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