Friday, 21 January 2011

21.01. Busy week

Hi, I haven’t had time to write for a few days, it’s been a very busy week with two hospital appointments this week and one appointment last Friday. It’s made me realise how much time I spend on all these hospital visits; not the actual time in with the doctor, because that might be just 20-30 minutes, but everything else can take up most of the day. Some of the hospitals I go to I can drive my own car, door to door, which is a great time saver, but the hospitals I go to in Central London I no longer am able to go to by public transport, so I need to go by hospital transport. It’s not possible to drive by own car to Central London, as parking is impossible, and anyway, for some reason, disabled parking permits are not recognised in Central London, the only city in Europe where the Blue Badge is disregarded! And even though
there are a very limited amount of parking spaces around most hospitals, and I possibly could drive there well in time and wait for an available space; driving all the way in to Central London is too far for me these days. It’s just a too long journey, especially coming back; through rush-hours it can easily take 1 ½ hours or more.

This leads me on to my next reason why hospital visits takes such a long time..... When I do drive to one of the hospitals nearby here where I live, which I did last Wednesday, it takes 30 minutes to drive there if I have an appointment in the afternoon, I drive early enough to arrive about ONE HOUR before my appointment so I got plenty of time to circle the hospital waiting for one of TWELVE parking spaces to become available! I must add here that this is East London’s main hospital, with over 868.000 patients in total (-in and out patients) in 2009/2010 and with just over 8.500 staff on their 3 different premises (statistics from their web-site). But how many parking spaces do they have for their patients? NONE! All we are offered is Pay-and Display in the surrounding streets and of them there are in total 12. TWELVE. That’s it. The remaining spaces are residential parking; if you park there you’ll get an £80 fine. And you will get a fine, promptly, because if the parking attendant doesn’t catch you between arriving and returning, one of the many street cameras will, so the fine will come in the post 10 days later instead. Been there, done that....didn’t have a choice, I just couldn’t get a space to park my car, and I got later and later for my appointment....so I parked my car on a residential parking space... Oooohh...and got a fine. Expensive doctor appointment, could just as well have taken a taxi to the hospital. That was a couple of years ago; now I leave early enough so that I have time to circle until there is an available space for me, just got to remember to have enough petrol, circling like that uses a lot of petrol! And last Wednesday it took 40 minutes of circling around before I got a space. That’s a long time, but far from a record. And when I arrived at the clinic I had to wait for 1 hour and 35 minutes, before the doctor was ready to see me. Nope, that’s no way near a record! I think the record is well over 3 hours, but not at that hospital.

And that is the next big time consumer; waiting to see the doctor. I know they are all busy people, and that they are not exactly sitting in their offices twiddling their thumbs or playing computer games whilst we all are filling up their waiting rooms. But, why do they let the booking office put patients on every 10 minutes, when they obviously spend more than 10 minutes on EVERY patient? All hospitals I go to do the same, most of them have severe delays, and if you are seeing the consultant, he will be helping out his junior doctors as well as seeing his own patients, so the waiting time will be even longer. Having a full waiting room every day when they have clinic is a result of bad planning, nothing else. It’s good, however, to have one or two patients overlapping, in case someone doesn’t turn up...you wouldn’t want a doctor earning more than £100.000 a year sit and wait for the patients, I get that. But having 20 patients waiting for the doctor every clinic day...that’s bad planning, and the doctor doesn’t get to go home any earlier, he has to clear the waiting room anyway, regardless of what appointment time it says on the patients’ letters. I know the doctor’s time is valuable to him and to the hospital, but I wonder if they have ever though of the fact that my time is just as valuable to me??

The last, big time consumer is the patient transport, and anyone who has had to use this knows what a waste of time this is. I have used it in Norway, and I am using it here in London to several hospitals in Central London. It works the same way in both countries, and probably does in other countries too. Basically they come with a mini bus so they can pick up several people on the way to the hospital, and the trip therefore takes almost twice as long as it normally would because of all the detours along the way. The trip back is the same way in reverse, and since I live quite far out on the edge of London, I am usually dropped off the last. The advantage is of course that I get door to door transport that won’t cost me a penny, and they will even get me a porter if it’s a long way to walk to the department I am heading for...remember, the hospitals in Central London are enormously big ones, especially UCL Hospital, where I go quite often; that’s a place where you walk a marathon just to get from one department to another :-) The main problem with hospital transport is that I am not in control of when I am picked up, so I can be picked up more than 2-3 hours before my appointment, spend 2-3 hours in the waiting room, see the doctor, spend another 1-2 hours waiting in the transport office for an available minibus to take me home, and then a 1 ½  hour journey through heavy traffic to get home. That’s a very long day in my book...

Oh well, that was today’s rant, thanks for listening :-) I have done other things this week besides visiting doctors...It’s been a few days with nice weather in the garden, and I have been able to get a bit more done, although it’s going at a slower pace now. Some of the work is rather heavy, and today I have actually pruned a tree! Yes, I stood on a stepladder and pruned off all the branches on a small conifer. I can’t say I like doing that, despite having my phone in my pocket just in case something happened...but if something did happen and I fell down, no one would notice, and no one would see me there on the ground, and I would have had to be conscious to be able to phone for help! So...well, I don’t do things like that often, but when you have been single most of your life you learn to do all the jobs, even the ones that you don’t really want to...there isn’t any blue jobs and pink jobs in my house, they are all designated for one person –ME! The tree looked good when I was finished though, it is a small conifer that has had a slow death over a period of two years, and last summer I realised that there was no way this tree was going to resurrect. So what I have done today is to move a honeysuckle that used to grow up a drainpipe in a very dark corner of the garden and I placed it next to the finished pruned little conifer. Hopefully by the end of this summer, the honeysuckle will have reached all the way to the top and got leaves and flowers covering all the stumps on the tree. It was just too dark when I was finished today to take a photo; if it’s not raining tomorrow I will take a photo of the finished article.

But I did take a picture of my next big job; do you remember the plants on my arch? The Dregea sinensis? Well, here is the monster I am supposed to cut down. But I can’t just cut the whole lot down, it won’t look nice then; I have to leave some long branches going the whole way to the top, and just cut off the old wood and the weakest and trim off the excess. That’s a lot more work that cutting off the whole lot. Not looking forward to it at all, and as I explained the other day, the sticky sap makes the whole job so much more cumbersome. And not to mention the fact that the arch is 2.5 m tall so I have to stand on a stool to reach everything on the top...whilst the sap will slowly drip down on me as I cut one part after the other...Ohhhh, the joy of gardening! I will keep you updated :-)

OK, enough for tonight? I just about made it before midnight so this post became a Friday post and not a Saturday one...tomorrow I need to sit down and start writing a bit earlier I think. I got some promising news regarding the foxes in my garden, but you will need to wait until tomorrow for that, I am knackered and off to bed. Night night, take care.

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