The Latest NHS Complaint
The week before Christmas, I had to see a GP that I don’t normally attend, owing to the fact that LGP is so popular that I couldn’t get an appointment with him. The appointment was mainly to confirm the diagnosis of IBS, given as I had a number of blood tests to rule out other conditions. The below, addressed to the surgery’s Practice Manager, details what took place in the appointment.
Dear Sir or Madam
It is with regret that I am writing to you in order to make a complaint about an appointment that I had with Dr Arsehole on Friday 18 December 2009 at 8.40am. In particular, I wish to make my views known about Dr Twatbag’s dismissive and patronising approach in relation to my health issues.
The appointment was primarily scheduled to discuss a physical health problem. I had been told previously by a colleague of Dr Shithead’s that medication was available to assist in the management of this condition, a fact that Dr Wanker confirmed. However, he then refused to prescribe me anything to alleviate the severity of my symptoms, citing my age without providing any substantive reasoning. I am baffled as to the relevance of an individual’s age to their need or otherwise for medication, and was not offered an explanation. Furthermore, Dr Knobjockey chose to fixate on my weight at this juncture. I do recognise that I am overweight, but as intimated to the doctor, have recently been dieting and exercising, resulting in the loss of over three stones. Despite my attempts to make this clear, the physician continued to speak condescendingly to me about the strain on resources that the “obesity epidemic” is causing.
However, it was a discussion around my mental health that caused the most offence and which, in my view, demonstrated not only a lack of sympathy for mental illness, but in fact ignorance surrounding this group of health conditions. When I asked for medication to help combat insomnia and anxiety, Dr Bollockfist refused, in an irritable and frankly almost hostile fashion. In the past I have been refused these medications, and would certainly not issue a complaint on those grounds alone. However, I do not think it is unreasonable for me to have expected this request to have been denied respectfully and sympathetically, with an explanation of the reasoning.
Regarding my chronic sleep deprivation, Dr Cuntfeatures unhelpfully told me that a lack of sleep, no matter how long-term, “won’t kill [me]”, failing utterly to offer any practical help or advice on the matter. Perhaps this is, literally speaking, true, but this denies the extremely serious effects a lack of sleep can have on normal daily functioning. I am also fairly sure that this does not constitute professional advice nor assistance. I should not have to point out that forced sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture.
Dr Bastardface discussed insomnia that he had experienced following a personal bereavement; whilst obviously I have the greatest sympathy for his loss, I fail to see the relevance of the example, and indeed believe that the implied suggestion was that because my insomnia is not necessarily circumstantial that it is therefore somehow less real or less deserving of attention than a lack of sleep caused by a distinct traumatic event. He then, to my astonishment, point blank denied a connection between psychotic symptoms and insomnia. Might I be so bold as to suggest that Dr Dickhead researches this more fully; insomnia is, in fact, well known to cause or increase psychosis and the symptoms of psychiatric illness (source).
In discussion of the illnesses that (at least in part) contribute to the aforesaid, I was dismayed by the allegation that I was simply trying to “medicalise” my conditions. I do not believe this to be fair at all – I am presently undergoing intense psychotherapy and merely wish to try and manage my symptoms until it has reached a satisfactory conclusion (incidentally, please see the enclosed letter to Mindwise regarding the disturbing possibility of a premature cessation of this necessary process. If I cannot receive psychotherapy to sort through my illnesses psychologically, I fail to see what choice I have but to seek medical intervention). I would add, also, that even if I were ‘medicalising’ my illnesses that they are, indeed, at least partly biological. Borderline Personality Disorder is thought to exist in individuals with a biological predisposition (sources) and bipolar disorder is considered primarily a medical illness (sources). Both are, of course, considered serious mental illnesses, having disproportionate rates of psychosis, suicide and self-harm (sources).
Incidentally, I noted with interest that my file does not reflect these diagnoses, still stating that I suffer from depression and anxiety. Whilst these co-morbidities do exist, my primary diagnosis is BPD (with psychotic features) with a differential diagnosis of bipolar disorder, type II.
Overall, it was not so much what was said that upset me (though I felt that to be lacking too) as the manner and tone in which it was said. Although I felt Dr Bellend’s response to my physical complaint was inadequate, it was at least presented fairly amicably by him. His attitude to my mental illness was, however, dismissive, unsympathetic and thoroughly unhelpful – I would say it bordered on disdainful, indeed.
Whilst I appreciate the subjectivity of this judgement, I would hope that the fact I have never made a complaint about [the practice] in my life until now would indicate that I am not wont to take things out of context. Unfortunately I got the distinct impression that the physician was dubious as to the sincerity of my illnesses and that it was felt that I did not have ‘real problems’ (though should he require a list of traumatic events that have helped to contribute to my psychiatric illnesses, I should be happy to provide same). It is sad that such stigma is not only present in society, but apparently in the medical professional also. Dr Cockhead, like anyone, has a perfect entitlement to hold such a view privately, but given his chosen career should not allow it to impinge on his professional practice.
I would like to make clear that, in general, I have felt very much supported by the professionals at the practice – in particular, I would like to thank [LGP], [the Nurse Practitioner] and all the nursing staff for the support, respect and professionalism that they have shown me. I have also had the pleasure of having positive interactions with Dr Ballbag in the past, and would therefore hope that this incident merely represents a ‘blip’ in the professionalism of his practice. However, given the distress it caused me and the apparent lack of awareness that it represents, I felt that it was imperative to bring it to your attention.
Thank you for your time.
Enc (of the letter to the advocacy service).