I would love to say I'm a big supporter of the NHS. I absolutely like the idea of it. And I wouldn't support any plans that saw it taken away. However, pretty much every real life experience of the NHS has been a little bit shit.
At the moment (moan, moan, moan), I'm experiencing chronic back pain, probably something to do with the fact I'm now absolutely massive and my poor weedy joints don't know what's hit them. I've been having private physio at work, but only ten sessions per condition are covered by my health insurance. Hence the fact that it's time to turn to the NHS. My doctor duly referred me (she didn't even use Google this time!).
About a week ago I got a call on my mobile.
Caller: Hello, is that Ms Nunn?
Caller: This is Rectory Lane Physiotherapy. We're pleased we can now offer you an appointment.
Me: Great - that was much quicker than I expected.
Caller: Well, we do rush through urgent cases like yours. So you're having physio because of your knee replacement?
Me: Sorry, what?
Caller: Your knee replacement. Do you remember? You had your whole knee replaced? Remember?
Me: Erm, I think you might have the wrong person.
Caller: Oh. Are you sure? I've got here that you had your whole knee replaced. Your right knee. No, sorry, your left. That was you, wasn't it?
Me: Erm, no. I think I would remember that.
Caller: Hmm. That's odd. You definitely haven't had your knee replaced six weeks ago?
Me: Not that I remember.
Caller: So you think you might have done?
Me: No. I haven't had my knee replaced.
Caller: I'll double-check and call you back.
They didn't. But what I did get was a letter in the post asking me to call Rectory Lane to make a Physio appointment myself. I needed to call between 9-4 p.m. Monday to Friday. If I didn't call within two weeks, they would take me off their waiting list.
Reader, I called them.
The phone rang. And rang. And eventually an answer phone picked up. "Oh well," I thought. "They are probably busy at this time of day."
A lady's voice told me their opening hours again, and invited me to leave a message and my phone number, or to call back later. I awaited the beep. It didn't happen. I waited a bit longer. Still no beep.
What I heard instead was this recorded message, "Do you know how this works?" "No". Then the sound of someone pressing a lot of buttons. Then "Oh dear." "What does this button do?" Still no beep.
I gave up. I'll call back later.
Is this a new NHS tactic for reducing waiting lists; refuse to take your call, and then claim you didn't contact them within two weeks?
In the meantime, if you want a laugh, give Rectory Lane Physiotherapy a call on 020 8272 4614 and have a listen to their answer phone message. On the exceptionally slim off-chance you do get through, could you make an appointment for me? Apparently I've had knee surgery and I'm an urgent case.