Last night I watched a programme about benefits cheats. I usually steer away from these because they frequently offer only the stereotype of persons, mostly with a discouraging tooth to tattoo ratio and a plethora of plasma tellys.
However, whilst watching, and listening to exactly how one goes about cheating the system (easy: lie), the part that amazed me the most was that the guy pretending to be disabled said he just ‘pops into the doctors and gets a sick note’.
So here’s my issue: how on earth does he manage to even get an appointment??
Last week I rang my surgery, part of Portsdown Group Practice, and enquired as to whether I could obtain a routine appointment. I am careful to not request an emergency one unless I deem it wholly necessary, and I am always courteous to the receptionists. I even use the walk-in centre if appropriate rather than the GP, because managing to clap eyes on the Lesser Spotted General Practitioner is harder than finding an athlete who hasn’t taken part in doping since 2005.
Upon phoning, I suffered through the usual automated waffle & bad muzak, and waited for a human to answer and converse with me.
When a receptionist did answer, she merely told me that she had no routine appointments and that I would have to ring back on Monday when there would be some. I politely said that I would, and followed orders, calling back after the weekend.
When I rang again, I went through the automated rigmarole, mounting up the phone bill, and was told, to my amazement, that whoever I had spoken to on Friday had it wrong, there would be no routine appointments unleashed on the desperate public until Tuesday at 4pm.
I had begun to think that in order to obtain one I’d need to camp out in the manner of a One Direction fan, perhaps being made to complete a Krypton Factor style of obstacle course once I’d entered the holy sanctum of the surgery, only vaulting pits of understandably stressed, snarling and irate receptionists, instead of vats of mud.
I rang back on Tuesday 11th August and finally received an appointment for, astonishingly, the end of the first week of September! Nearly FOUR WEEKS AWAY.
The most frustrating thing is that my Drs are excellent, and they’ve gone out of their way for me before. It’s just that it’s such an effort, bordering on the ludicrous, to actually see one.
First published in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 18th August 2015