I am disappointed that my hitherto good reports of the NHS have to be modified. Oh – the treatment I have so far received from absolutely everyone has been fantastic. I’ve been really thrilled to discover that those who serve in the nursing profession are as kindly and helpful and thoughtful and…yes, professional, as people have been telling me throughout all the years I have been a hospital visitor rather than a hospital patient. And the clinicians have answered my questions and explained things and been re-assuring and have performed their allotted tasks with great skill, proficiency and expertise. Whatismore, most of what has happened to me since the first diagnosis in late November has happened relatively quickly. But, as good as all this may be, one cannot overlook the fact that there is a communications problem within the system,

Since my excellent GP first noticed that there was a problem and packed me off in quick time to see the specialists I have seen half a dozen or more doctors of consultant rank, plus registrars and housemen, in five different sites in three different towns. Individually as clinicians one would be hard pressed to find a fault in any of them – all of them kindly and sympathetic – and all of them keen to do what is necessary for my health. However inter-departmental and inter-disciplinary communications are not areas in which they shine.

It is not appropriate to go into details here or to name names or label departments. However it is quite apparent to me that there is not a free-flow of information between those several persons who are responsible for my treatment, recovery and rehabilitation, which has led to delays, confusion, misunderstandings, wasted journeys; hold-ups and anxiety. All of which have contributed to my being in pain for longer than is necessary; my having to take a raft of pills for longer than I should have done; pressure and worry not only for me but more importantly for my family; and the very real prospect that my brand new employer – the charity Combat Stress [see links] – who has generously kept me on (despite the fact that I am still in my probationary period with them) might be forced to let me go if the delays go on for much longer, thus preventing my returning to work. To say nothing of what long-term adverse effects these delays may have on my health and longevity.

It’s not that I am ungrateful for what is being done for me, or that I undervalue any of the health care team that has seen me – but in cases such as mine, where a number of different teams from three or four different departments have to treat me, it is my contention that a “Case Manager” should be immediately assigned. It would be the Case Manager’s responsibility to be the first point of contact both for the patient and the clinicians; also s/he would have an over-arching concern to monitor the progress of the patient through the system; to be a conduit of information both between the various doctors - and also between the doctors and the patient, and to facilitate a expeditious transfer from one procedure to the next. . As it is, there is not one person I can look to and say that s/he is my doctor – s/he has overall responsibility for my care and s/he is the one to whom I can turn to with questions or with any cares or worries that I may have. Instead there is a slight feeling of being a piece of flotsam or jetsam floating around in a vaguely haphazard manner waiting for someone to pick me up!

It does come down to one thing. Communication – the lack of which is a glaringly sad gap in what is I so many other ways an excellent service.