Thursday, 6 May 2010

Spanish Health Service

I posted a couple of weeks ago about a visit or two to my doctor. This eventually resulted in a referral to a specialist medical centre up the road. The appointment was for this morning, and I put the previous horrible experience out of my mind. My positive approach worked: a young lady came out of the consulting room and told us who was who in the queue. I was actually seen at the appointed time, and the consultant spoke English! Brilliant. He didn't actually do anything much, though, just gave me some forms. One for a hospital appointment, and another for a follow-up with him where he would tell me the results.

Things took a turn for the worse after that. The appointments room was packed solid with people, and it took me five minutes to work out there was a ticket system in operation, and another five minutes to actually locate the ticket dispenser (it wasn't actually in the room, it was about ten metres away down the corridor outside). I was horrified to see I was number 818. The display was currently showing 702. I stood waiting for a few minutes to see how fast people were being dealt with. The answer was 'not very', so I went for a long walk. When I got back, the queue had advanced by about thirty. I went and did some shopping - the queues in the supermarket are normally fairly long and slow, but today I just whizzed through the checkout.

Back at the medical centre, there were still fifty-odd people ahead of me, so I went walking again. The display had just reached 800 when I got back, and the crowd was thinning out so I managed to get a seat. But I still had my positive little attitude on me. It would soon be my turn and then I would find out how Spanish hospital waiting lists would compare to British ones. I felt sure they'd be much shorter. Finally, after only one and a half hours of waiting, it was my turn.

The lady at the counter looked at my appointment request, looked at the computer, looked a bit puzzled, and picked up the phone. It seems the department in question is fully booked until the end of July.

'And after that?'

'Vacacciones.'

But surely they still operate the service? Buggered if I know. Try again in a couple of weeks, I think she said. And she very helpfully gave me the number for the free appointments phone line, which, of course, I am never going to use. Annoyed doesn't begin to describe how I'm feeling right now.

UPDATE: to be fair, I've just looked at the stack of papers they gave me, and the hospital appointment sheet has 3 boxes the doc can tick to indicate priority. It goes from urgent, in which case you should be seen within fourteen day, medium, a month, and non-urgent, three months. Guess which one is ticked on my form?

5 comments:

Duffy said...

And this is the very same model they want to create for US healthcare. No thanks, ours may be expensive but it's better than what you described.

Lee said...

Keep trying to call - you may get an appointment someone has cancelled. Also, don't they have an online appointment service? (I don't know if it's in all specialties).

Jayne said...

ZGood grief! Maybe next time take your laptop or a thick notepad & several pencils & you can write anothr book whilst you wait!

Keefieboy said...

Duffy, I doubt that the hundreds of thousands bankrupted by medical expenses each year, nor the millions with no health insurance would agree with you. I certainly don't.

Lee: online appointments are for basic healthcare only, not specialist stuff.

Jayne: damn fine idea!

Dave said...

I can certainly understand your frustration - most annoying.

And, you could have spent that time cooking up some of your culinary delights...