A slight hiccup

An open letter to a GP surgery: On Monday May 10 at about 4.00 pm I developed what is commonly known as hiccups and it persisted through the night and through Tuesday and Wednesday and into Thursday. On Thursday afternoon I was persuaded by my family to call the doctor, which I foolishly did.

Having dialled the telephone number for the surgery and waited for a considerable time to hear a reply I was then treated to a lengthy list of varied instructions as to which button I should press to receive attention. It finally suggested that if I was so incompetent as to be unable to get my needs together I should ‘hold for an operator’ which, of course I dutifully did, full of eager anticipation at the thought of talking to a fellow human being. There followed yet another long period of ring-tone and eventually, like the sun peeping out from behind a black cloud, a human voice. Hurrah!

Having established my identity-and hers- she asked the one question I wanted to hear-what’s wrong with you?

At this point please bear-in-mind that a considerable period had elapsed since I –with my family’s support and encouragement- had initiated that first action to dial the surgery telephone number. Maybe 4 or 5 minutes? However I was there at last. I related the facts of my hiccups and all the accompanying details to your employee, who seemed slightly flabbergasted, and after a bit of mumbling and fumbling recommended that I ring 111.

At this point when I retell this tale to friends verbally they invariably fall about with laughter. “But, “I say” there is more to come”.

After the lengthy preamble inviting me to talk to anyone except the one I needed, I was finally connected to an operator-or similar. Once again we went through the introductions and I was told that ‘someone will call you’. To cut a long story short (Oh, how I wish I could!) someone returned my call and we went through the details ever again. Eventually the person-I believe to be a nurse- said that I should contact my GP!

The call is eventually answered by a human voice called the operator.

After a re-run of the preliminaries I’m told there is no chance of anyone contacting me for some time as they are too busy. In fact there is no one available to call me until June 4th. A simple arithmetical sum arrives at 25 days hence before someone from my GP’s surgery can deal with my problem.

Words do not fail me, in fact they come swarming to my mind but I fear I would simply run out of adjective.

Maybe it was a genuine mistake and your employee was looking at the wrong calendar? Alternatively you could confess that it was true and you would grovel your profuse apologies?

My records will show you that I will soon attain my 90th birthday on this God-forsaken earth and I can only hope that he next one is a distinct improvement. I intend to send a copy of this letter to anyone I think may be able to reassure me this is an isolated incident and 70+ years after the introduction of the marvellous NHS it cannot be dumbed down to this level.

Phillip Eagle

Furlong Close

Haydon Wick

Women's health survey

Although female life expectancy is higher than men in the UK, shockingly women on average spend less of their life in good health compared with men.

Less is known about women only conditions, and research which could improve women’s health are often gender biased. This must change.

The Government is urging women of all ages and backgrounds to respond to a new call for evidence about their experiences of using the health and care system from puberty through to menopause, mental health to dementia.

I am asking your readers from all backgrounds, to visit gov.uk/talk-womens-health if they have something to share and pass it on to family and friends. Their voices must be heard to help shape the Department for Health and Social Care’s first ever Women’s Health Strategy to improve the health and wellbeing of women across England.

Prof Dr Geeta Nargund,

Co-Founder Ginsburg Women’s Health Board