The GP Hall of Fame
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It seems that gone are the days of the family GP, the doctor who knew us personally, called us by our first name, knew our parents, grandparents, siblings and probably turned up at the same local functions we did. We are now in the days of the 10 minute appointment, the days of only being allowed to discuss one thing in any one appointment, the days of seeing different doctors every time we go, or a nurse practitioner!
Having done my fair share of moaning in the past, I think it only right and proper to give praise where it is due too. I have a story about a GP who has certainly gone the extra mile for me, who has dug her heels in and bucked the system on my behalf. I would like to tell the story and hope others will post their stories of GPs who deserve to be recognised in the Hall of Fame for their efforts on behalf of their patient!
My story started about 6 weeks ago when I developed a rash on my arms and legs. The only appointment I could get was with the Nurse Practitioner at my surgery, who suspected the start of eczema and prescribed Doublebase Gel. Four weeks and seven 500ml tubs of Doublebase Gel later, I decided I really need to see a doctor. The rash had worsened on my arms and legs and spread to my tummy, chest, bottom and most other areas, except my back strangely enough, and my hands and feet. I saw a lady doctor, Dr Kamath at my surgery. She suspected a Psoriasis flare up due to medication. Following my first Angina attack in May, I had been put on Beta Blockers and when she pulled the blurb up on her screen, they showed as not recommended for Psoriasis sufferers. I have had Plaque Psoriasis since 1983 following a severe road traffic accident. It was assumed the trauma of the accident set it off. Anyway, she thought the tablets had caused a flare up and replaced them with something different to do the same job, gave me a short course of intense steroids and told me to return in a week. This I did and by now, the thing had spread further and was worse than ever, so she referred me to a specialist.
This is where the whole thing gets complicated. Our local health authority have outsourced their dermatology treatment to a private company called Virgin Healthcare. Here I was waiting for an appointment and I get a letter with an identification number and a pass code, instructing me to ring a certain telephone number and make an appoint to suit me. This I did and was told that there were no appointments available in my area and that someone would contact me in two weeks to make an appointment within the following month. Hmm, my GP had said I needed to be seen urgently and by this reckoning I could be looking at 6 weeks. Still, I prepared myself to wait for the phone call in two weeks time, but my rash had other ideas. It started to migrate into large, angry red patches, radiating heat and making me have attacks of the shivers. Back I went to the GP who was horrified to hear about the two week, four week situation. She immediately got on the phone to Virgin Dermatology, but met with a brick wall. She then phoned the dermatology consultant at the hospital, who she knew personally. He was sympathetic, but apparently under the terms of the agreement the hospital has with Virgin Dermatology, he is not allowed to see any patient in outpatients unless it is for skin cancer, Melanoma. Other than that he can only see inpatients. He wished to help and suggested she admit me!!! While I was grateful for the offer, but the thought of taking up a valuable hospital bed just to buck the system stuck in my throat. The doctor said she would get back to Virgin and rang again, asking to speak to someone higher up the chain of command than the operator. They were to ring her back, so she said she would ring me when she heard from them.
Sure enough, she rang in the afternoon. They were supposed to fax her an appointment by the morning and she would ring me the next day. In the course of conversation, she had happened to mention to them that she had put me on steroids again, something she had done without really holding out any hope they would work as the first course didn't, but feeling that at least she was doing something for me. When she got her fax in the morning, the powers that be at Virgin Dermatology said that as I was on steroids which may work, they wanted her to wait for the seven days of the course then get back to them. The doctor was not a happy lady! I was to leave it with her, she would make more calls and get back to me, but if she was unable to succeed with Virgin, she wanted to admit me for the consultant to take over.
I get the feeling this was now something of a personal crusade for her, to get this company to recognise the seriousness of the situation and get their act together. She had already told them she suspected Erythrodermic Psoriasis, something which can be life threatening according to Google!
Sure enough, she rang this morning to say I would be getting a phone call from a person called James who would book me an appointment within 24 hours. The call came and I am due to see then at 8:45 tomorrow morning. She then rang back again around 4pm to see if they had in fact rung.
I am so impressed with this doctor. Somewhere in the region of 8 calls to Virgin Dermatology, three to me and two to the hospital consultant. She stamped her foot at the 'system' and won! I just hope when I get there tomorrow, they care they offer is a fraction as good as her battle to get it for me. I have her instructions to ring her again if I am not satisfied, and she will dispense with them and admit me after all. I am crossing my fingers that it doesn't come to that.
Please share your stories of your GP hero and hopefully we can establish a Hall of Fame, which may give hope to those battling the system alone. Maybe we should also have a Hall of Shame for those that only seem to want to get you out of the consulting room in the quickest possible time??? :)
Suncatcher, I hope you got to see someone in the end, you have had a horrific time of it and your doctor has done well to stand up for you .. well done her you have a good doctor there. I believe Appts. made from the Surgery have to be paid for by the Surgery so if they made the appt for Virgin Healthcare they have to pay them, I think this is how it works but I might have got it wrong.
Psoriasis is a horrible condition, it is in my family so I do sympathise though do not suffer myself and I hope they can do something for you as you have suffered terribly.
My 2 year old has horrendously bad eczema where she scratches and claws at her skin til of course it bleeds. Foderma serum has been wonderful. We use it along with another one to heal and protect. It did exactly what it said it would do and we use it routinely. Her skin has never looked this great. We try to taper off a bit but as soon as it starts coming back we apply this everyday and it heals her skin. It doesn't cure the eczema but makes it so much more manageable for us.
It is a little off the topic but I have been more than a little sceptical about Virgin Health Care since it started up in 2010. I doubt surgeries have to pay for referrals. Virgin tend to bid for contracts covering Dermatology etc in an area, even Child Mental Health. Their money would come from the relevant trust I think. Here is a link that is a little sceptical about Virgin Health.
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