I’d only just got back to my office after my lunch break on Friday afternoon when my mobile buzzed three times in a row within the space of ten minutes, with ‘private number’ flashing up on the screen. I cursed cold callers everywhere, and EDF Energy in particular, before the thought suddenly occurred to me, “What if it’s Moorfields, ringing to cancel my appointment on Monday?”. By this point, a voicemail had been left, so I listened to it immediately, with a sinking feeling of dread. Sure enough, it was Moorfields to tell me that my appointment on 7 January had been postponed until 11 February due to a chronically overbooked clinic, and to ring back if this was a problem.
This is the third time I’ve had an appointment postponed in this way, plus I was at work, so fortunately I didn’t go into quite the meltdown that I did the first time this happened. However, I wasn’t happy. My colleague, seeing my distress, told me, “Well ring them back! Ring them back now! Tell them you’ve had to take a day off work for it and you’ve booked somewhere to stay because you can’t travel back with dilated eyes, and tell them how much anxiety it causes you and that it’s damaging your mental health. Ring them now, before everyone else they’re postponing does the same!” I think she was worried that I was in danger of pushing myself out of the two-inch gap allowed by opening our ancient office windows and hurling myself onto the stones below.*
I rang them back. There was no answer. I rang again. And again. And again. And… oh okay, you get the picture. Then I gave up and rang the main appointments line and after a lot of ear-drum agony which was so badly recorded that it can’t possibly be considered ‘music’ in any shape or form, I ended up in that joyous place: a telephone queue. “You are now number five in the queue!”, declared the far-too-cheerful voice which immediately made me want to punch her in the face. (Avoiding the eyes, of course. I don’t want to add to the number of people needing eye appointments.) “You’re number one in the queue?!”, asked my colleague hopefully. “No… number five”, I sighed, before telling her my theory that sometimes they just leave you on a recorded message with the same number in the hopes that you’ll eventually give up. “Well, you might as well just hang on now, and carry on working while you wait”, she advised, sensibly.
To cut a long story short, I did eventually get to speak to someone, who subsequently rang me back later to explain that there was nothing they could do as the clinic was so overbooked that it would be unsafe for the doctors to see everyone and hence they were rescheduling some appointments. They told me that the doctors had indicated which patients should be rescheduled, which made me feel slightly better about the whole thing. They didn’t tell me why the clinic had become so overbooked or why patients were being rescheduled so late in the day. However, I imagine the issue is probably a combination of the Christmas and New Year bank holidays and emergency cases which have presented in the meantime. Having been in that emergency situation myself on a few occasions, I am of course fully aware of the need to sometimes postpone appointments for regular or less urgent cases. However, this knowledge does nothing to lessen my increasing concern about the state of our overstretched NHS and my fears for its future. I’ve already written about this in more detail in ‘Sod the Tories‘, and ‘I’m voting for the NHS‘ so I won’t bang on about it again now. However, I do find the whole thing massively frustrating, incredibly worrying, and hugely depressing, and in my view if Brexit goes ahead then things are only going to get worse.
Of course, the irony here is that although the appointment has been postponed, the pre-appointment panic unfortunately hasn’t as that’s been building up for the past few weeks. Perhaps if I remember that an appointment can be cancelled right at the last minute, it’ll prevent me from getting quite so stressed about them in the future. [Pauses to watch a sounder of swine sail past the window.]
* Although sometimes I think that I could possibly squeeze through this gap, our office is on the ground floor so the potential for visiting “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns” via this method is very much limited.