Friday, 13 May 2011

An Unsure Footing (bring your own glue).

I had often heard that there are huge waiting lists for podiatry and foot health appointments in Haringey. People waiting for their treatment were reportedly hugely inconvenienced – as well as experiencing unnecessary pain – by being made to wait so long.

I wear orthotics in my shoes because of my bad back, Achilles tendon problems and the fact that one leg is a bit longer than the other (to quote one plain-speaking expert, I am ‘far from mechanically perfect’).

I’ve always had the orthotics made up on the NHS, formerly at St Ann’s Hospital and then, when the service moved, at Lordship Lane Polyclinic (which is a mere THREE bus rides from my flat, four year old in tow…). I’ve never waited that long for an appointment in the past, and wondered how true it was that the waiting lists were incredibly long.

However, having broken an orthotic at the end of last year, I asked for a referral in December, and then I waited. And waited (my back pain become worse as a result). I chased up my appointment several times and eventually found out I’d be seen in early April. The morning of the appointment, a call came through that the member of staff whom I was to see was ill, and I’d have to wait for another month.

At my delayed appointment, I was told that the woman was the only person dealing with orthotics for the whole borough as the other member of staff, who I had previously seen, left their role and their post was closed. The woman told me she couldn’t make my orthotics that day as the appointment was just ten minutes long, and that I’d have to come back in a few weeks for a full assessment.

That appointment took place today. Mentioning to the woman that I am pregnant and suffering from additional pain due to Symphis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), I was hurriedly told “you can’t wear orthotics when pregnant!” (news to me) and that “I should ask if people are pregnant – I always forget!”

It was agreed that I would have some temporary, softer contraptions made up – but get this – THEY HAD RUN OUT OF GLUE! – and so they would have to post them to me. It was either that or they make them up with double sided tape! (No, really, I am not making this up – if only!).

Now, I knew I had to take my broken orthotics and some shorts along to the assessment, but I didn’t know I had to take my own glue. If it had said so on the letter I’d have popped into Rymans on the arduous journey to the clinic!
Seriously though, what a mess. I’m lucky: although ‘far from mechanically perfect’ I can get about okay, albeit with varying levels of discomfort. Others aren’t so lucky and will be seriously incapacitated by this unbelievably shoddy service. Now that the local PCT has been dissolved, I am not even sure who is ‘at the wheel ‘of the local health service. Clearly whoever it is is fast asleep. And it is alarming that after just one year of this government, the NHS has already noticeably worsened.


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