A Visit to the UK Doctor, pt. 1 (of 2)

In Government, Health Care by J Michel MetzLeave a Comment

Some people have been asking about anecdotes about going to the NHS in England. This is what happened when I first got to the UK and had been there for 2 months (Date: May, 2006):

So, I have an appointment yesterday with Sister Sue, one of the nurses.

This is after I have registered with the doctor twice already (they lost the first registration).

“So, do you have a list of your medications?”

“Um, well, I brought what I could, but I had already given the doctor a full list of the medications and dosages last time.”

“Oh did you? Let me check”

typing with two fingers…

“Oh, well for some reason she hasn’t put them in yet. I’ll have to find out why. But we need for you to be put in the hospital.”


“We do this for all our diabetic patients.”

[remaining calm] What do you mean, “put in the hospital?”

“We have you go to the hospital to talk with the diabetic nurse or doctor.”

(*whew*, okay, so it’s not admission *into* the hospital)

“But in order to do that, we need to get your bloodwork done, but our nurse is going on holiday next week and she needs the results to talk with you. Can you come in and do it tomorrow?”

“Uh, okay.”

“Go around the corner and make an appointment at the little window next to the door. Here’s your appointment for Sister Pat before she leaves on Holiday next week.”

[goes to little window next to the door]

“Hi, I need to make an appointment for tomorrow to get my diabetic bloodwork done”

“Okay, but the earliest appointment is at 10:30.”

*sigh* Okay.

Flash forward to today.

10:30: Mr. Metz?


“Do you have your Blood Forms?”

“My what?”

“You don’t have a blood form?”

“No, no one gave me anything.”

“Oh, you need to go back to the reception and get a blood form.”

[goes over to reception]

“Hi, I was here yesterday and told to get diabetic bloodwork done and I have an appointment for this morning, but they don’t have the form.”

“Oh, so you need to make an appointment for bloodwork?”

“No, I *have* an appointment. For right now, in fact, but they didn’t give me a form when I was here yesterday”

“Oh, so you need to make an appointment to get a blood form.””

“No, I’m *here* for an appointment for bloodwork, they were supposed to give me a blood form *yesterday*, so I just need a copy of the form so I can give it to the blood people.”

“Oh. One moment please.”

[dials phone]

“Yes, I have a Mr. Metz here who needs a blood form. No he doesn’t have an appointment.”


“Mr. Metz, please go talk to the woman down the hall”

[goes down the hall] [repeats story]

“So Sister Sue didn’t give you a blood form?”

“No, I never got anything”

“Well, you’ll have to get an appointment to see the diabetic doctor.”

“Yes, I know, but I need to get the blood tests done first, I was told.”

“Right, so you need to go to the little window next to the door to make an appointment to get your bloodwork done.”

“No, I *have* the appointment for the bloodwork. I need the blood form.”

“Let me make a call.” [dials] “Hello, Sister Pat (the diabetic nurse) do you have an appointment for Mr. Metz for diabetic counseling?”

[to me] She says she’s going on holiday next week. If you want to see her you have to get your bloodwork done first.

“Yes, I know. That’s why I need a blood form.”

[to Sister Pat on the phone] “Is it okay if I give him a blood form?”
[waits] “Okay, so what should I put on the form? No, it’s not fasting…”

“Yes, it is,” I say

[ignoring me, back on the phone] “Okay, so I need -” [starts listing off tests]

Off the phone, turns to me. “Okay, because you’re a diabetic it’s non-fasting-”

“No, it *is* fasting. I haven’t eaten since midnight”

“Oh, you haven’t eaten?!”

“No. I’ve been fasting.” [stomach grumbling]

“Follow me, please.”

[off to reception, where she grabs a form and starts filling it out. Sister Pat comes out and talks to her]

Pat [to other woman]: “If he’s diabetic, it’s non-fasting”

Me: “No, It’s fasting. I haven’t eaten since midnight.”

Pat: You haven’t eaten?

Me: Since midnight, no.

Pat [stunned] But you’re diabetic.

Me: yes.

Pat: But don’t you go hypoglycemic (low blood sugar, what happens when you take insulin but don’t eat)

Me: I’m on pump therapy

Pat: So you don’t go hypo(glycemic?)

Me: Not on a pump, no.

[starting to get worried that the Diabetic nurse doesn’t know anything about diabetic insulin pumps]

Woman: “We need to make you an appointment to see the doctor to discuss the results” [to receptionist] “Could you help Mr. Metz make an appointment to see the diabetic doctor?”

[goes to receptionist two feet away; yes, same one as the first one I talked to]

Receptionist “Would you like to make an appointment?” (no, she wasn’t joking)

“Yes, please.”

Receptionist: “Well, there’s Dr. Xxxxx on May 23, or you can wait the following week to see Sister Pat.”

“So, I should just ignore the appointment I have with Sister Pat next week?”

“Oh, you already have an appointment?”

“Yes, with Sister Pat next week.”

“Oh, let me check.” [phones, gets off phone] “Yes, just cancel that appointment.”


Receptionist [hands me blood form and appointment card]: Okay, you need to go to the little window…

Me: -next to the door. Thanks.

[goes back to blood testing unit]

Receptionist who took my appointment yesterday morning: “Mr. Metz?”


“Did you make an appointment?”

(stunned) “Yes, with you. Remember we were talking about tea breaks?”

“Oh, I thought so.”

“Yes, I’m back”

“And they didn’t give you a blood form?”

“I have one now.”

“You’ll need to make an appointment with the doctor.”

“I have one, thanks.”

[goes and gets bloodwork done] [to work, receives email from Janet about the car quote]

Me: Janet, sorry it took me a while to get back to you; I was at the doctor’s office. Fun, fun, fun.

Janet [emails back]: Be grateful you got an appointment.


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