Day 134

Any day that involves a visit to the L&D is never going to be the happiest day in the history of 100 happy days. And yesterday was no exception. Appointment was at 11.30am so I duly collected A from school at 11am and K dropped us off (at least I didn’t have the car park to contend with this time).

We arrived at the clinic just after twenty five past and the waiting area was crammed. We eventually snagged a couple of seats and began our wait. And we waited. More people arrived. And we waited. Some people were called through. More arrived. And still we waited. Until we were the only ones left waiting (except a drugs rep and he was quite happy watching Bargain Hunt). We were eventually seen at ten past one. That’s an excruciatingly long time for a ten year old (even for this 42 year old) to wait. But she was so patient and so good. She only asked a couple of times if I thought she would be called soon and didn’t really complain when I said I had no idea. She read her book and watched the TV.

Her appointment lasted no more than 5 minutes.

I’m a great supporter of our NHS and think we are incredibly lucky to have this service. But I found myself at the point of tears of frustration yesterday. How can a 5 minute appointment warrant a 90 minute plus waiting time? We had an appointment – this wasn’t a drop in clinic or A&E. Yet there were clearly more people booked in than could logistically be seen. I know that emergency patients take priority (if someone gets smacked in the face and goes to A&E they will get seen before someone with an appointment and rightly so) but there was only one case like that as far as I was aware.

I was close to tears with frustration by the time we were seen – frustration at the wait, frustration at the total inability to make any difference to the situation – but also as much with anger that I felt like this. I don’t want to criticise this great institution that we are so lucky to have. I want to be able to say that it was a good experience and that the whole thing works brilliantly. I don’t want to be unpleasant and rude to the staff but by the end of the whole experience I could almost sympathise with people that get aggressive and angry. I asked for an early appointment next time, and was told that it would be a long way off. So now I have the trade off – do I make the nearest available appointment so that A can be seen in 10 weeks as necessary and have the inevitable, frustrating, horrendously long wait; or do I make it for the earliest time possible weeks after she is due to be seen but potentially be in and out of there in 30 minutes? I went for the latter.

Later on during the day from hell I received a call from A’s school. She was at her after school dancing club and was distressed – because one of the molar teeth that her retainer clips onto had come out while she was brushing her teeth after her snack. How could this not have been spotted at her appointment? The orthodontist had looked at her teeth and adjusted her retainer. A complained that it hurt her tooth but was (rightly?) told that it was because it has been tightened and would soon settle down. She now cannot wear her retainer as there is sore, inflamed gum for it to poke into. So after making a call to the clinic, on Monday we are taking another trip to the L&D. The time of the appointment? 2.30pm. (Tooth hurty.) Oh, how I laughed.

On a happier note, my boy came home with the fantastic news that he scored a level 5b in his maths test. He has improved an entire grade since his last report in Feb. I cannot express how happy and proud I am. He has worked incredibly hard with Jack, his lovely tutor, and he totally deserves this. Well done T.

A further happier note, the lovely Miss T has been keeping us updated on her new baby girl and she is doing brilliantly. She seems to have settled in really well and both mummy and baby are getting on great. I can’t wait to see them both.

So frustrated by the system but

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