Please note, all names of people and places have been changed to protect the identity of those involved and to prevent any lawsuits that may be instituted as a result of this blog post.
Dear Dr Jones,
My son Secundo is a patient of yours and we recently attended your clinic at the Royal South Bay Hospital. I am writing this letter as a blog post, confident in the knowledge that:
(a) not many people read my posts so it seems unlikely I will receive a counter-complaint from the public hospital system; and
(b) you definitely don’t read my posts so my son can continue to be your patient as he really likes you and your “crazy hair”.
I attended your clinic with Secundo (aged 6), Prima (aged 7) and Newborn (aged 18 months). We arrived on time for an 8am appointment, first with the orthoptist who measures my son’s vision and this was supposed to be followed by a consultation with you.
The orthoptist saw us at 10am for a 5 minute measurement. I would love to know how he was running 2 hours late by 8am. According to the orthoptist, Secundo’s vision has not changed since our last consultation.
We then waited another 45 minutes to see you. Except that by that time, you had left, and we were seen by a junior doctor. Junior doctor will remain nameless because he didn’t think it necessary to begin the consultation with a “Hello, I’m Dr [insert name] and I realise you’ve been waiting for 3 hours to see Dr Jones but unfortunately he is no longer here due to [insert name of fake or actual medical emergency].”
The junior doctor saw us for 6 minutes during which time all he told me was that Secundo’s vision was the same as before. I was really pleased we had waited the extra 45 minutes because I was not sure what the orthoptist meant when he said “Secundo’s vision has not changed” and I really needed some one else to explain that to me. Having waited almost 3 hours for that translation I was clearly foolishly expecting a “And the next step is…” Surprised by my request for more information, the junior doctor called you and interrupted your fake or actual medical emergency and you told him what the next steps were. Thank you for that.
I thought perhaps I could offer a few helpful hints to your clinic and its staff in anticipation of our next visit:
– there is a TV in the waiting room, please use it. I (and other equally desperate parents) asked your receptionists a few times to turn it on. Corrupted by some kind of sadistic power trip, they refused, citing that “the clinic is too busy”. If I had to work there for the rest of my life, I’d probably hate my fellow man too.
– institute a ticketed queuing system like the one used by Shoes & Sox. That way, when I arrive at 7:50am for an 8am appointment, I can see that there are 648 patients in front of me, and I can organise the children’s toilet visits, pace the snacks and perhaps pitch a tent accordingly.
– when politely asked by an exhausted parent why it is taking so long to see some one, please don’t shrug your shoulders and suggest I “go private” – unless you want me to lecture you on the extortionate “gap” that doctors charge here (despite the not-insignificant private health insurance premiums we have to pay), the need for greater private practice price regulation (oligopoly any one?), and the sheer audacity of being told that by a young doctor who almost certainly drove a BMW.
I have no problem with BMWs, their drivers or doctors that drive them. I am in fact related to a few of them and you will not find a patient more sympathetic to the pressures of the medical profession and the public hospital system than me. I recognise that:
– the public hospital system is under-funded, under-staffed and over-worked and that despite this, the quality of the care is often excellent;
– in the public health system, there will always be delays (unless you live in Norway or Sweden, where in my imagination I perhaps inaccurately believe that public services are delivered on time by a tall blonde man who looks a lot like Stefan Edberg);
– we should be grateful (and I am grateful) that we have a public health system at all (let alone one that functions so well) because in [insert name of any third world country or the USA] people do not have this and they (and their children) suffer terribly for it.
I think I just wanted some one to say “I’m sorry you had to wait, it’s not our fault but we understand it must be hard to entertain three children for three hours. We are tired and overworked too so we don’t mean to sound as snappy and mean-spirited as we do and as you have now become.”
Yes, this is a first-world complaint but it is still my complaint and you know what they say, a complaint shared is a complaint halved or doubled or something. And when I follow your “next steps” Dr Jones, which were to do nothing and come back in 6 months time, I won’t be going private but I will be bringing my laptop and enough Disney movies to get me through the day.
Yours sincerely and with genuine appreciation of the public health system,