Something ive always found odd is the way the NHS handles prescriptions for long term illnesses, such as diabetes. I hate inefficiency. Having to request the same stuff every month, or usually every 3-5 weeks, due to variable use, is not only time consuming but costly too. For both the NHS and the patient. With no cure on the immediate horizon, and a need to have some spare supplies, it seems the ethos of 28 days meds at a time is a bit ridiculous.
As type 1s we are trusted to carry out every function needed for our health and wellbeing, except ordering meds and supplies. In fact, now I’m on a pump, I order most stuff direct from the manufacturer. I’m trusted not to abuse that privilege. Why then, can I not have the same arrangement with the NHS?
My GP has no interest in, nor knowledge of, my day to day requirements. Despite this, several times I’ve had test strips removed from a prescription. When I’ve complained they’ve always been reinstated but, despite asking, I’ve never found out why they’ve been removed, nor who has taken the decision without involving me first. I’ve even offered to give an informal talk to explain the needs of a type 1. I was told they’re too busy. So much for patient engagement.
The latest episode has seen the introduction of the myhealthonline scheme across Wales. It’s a web based prescription system. The patient is given access to their own repeat meds and can request them via the website. Brilliant idea. My surgery announced the scheme via letter 4 or 5 weeks ago. As instructed, I obtained a form from reception, filled it in and returned it. I was told to call back in a week for my PIN number. I collected that last Friday, logged in and requested the insulin I need to get through Easter. The following morning I logged in to find that it had been rejected. I spent the weekend stressed, worrying what sort of battle I may have getting enough insulin before Friday. It makes me realise that, whatever messages I read on Twitter about patient centric healthcare, it isn’t likely to be universal. Not all HCPs are equal.
At 8.30 this morning I’ve rung the surgery to get an appointment. I explained to the receptionist what the problem is. She seemed to anticipate what I was ringing about. Apparently the GPs are not supposed to take any action on requests. My GP had done. Without finding out why I’d requested insulin, without having knowledge of my clinical needs and apparently against the practice guidelines. The receptionist has noted my problem and promised to resolve it. I’ll have to wait and see what, if anything, gets passed through to the pharmacy. I’m annoyed that I’ve been unable, yet again, to actually change anything. The problem is resolved for now. But nobody has gained any insight or furthered their knowledge of the issues we face when ordering and collecting supplies. There seems to be no time for anyone to listen to, let alone take interest in, the needs of the patient. This may be a local issue. But I don’t think so. I’ve always believed that a system is only as good as the person implementing it. Sadly, I don’t trust some of the people I rely upon for my health. Some are excellent. But it’s a gamble which of these people have my life in their hands at any time. Consequently I’d feel safer removing them from the equation. My GP doesn’t know me. He clearly doesn’t trust me to manage my own meds. I’m fairly certain, if I asked his advice about my diabetes management, he’d tell me I’m the expert. It’s something I’ve been told constantly over the decades. Until I want some autonomy.
Perhaps if I could request meds directly through my pharmacist it would introduce a more human, more understanding, more flexible and personalised approach. I’d be more than just a slip of paper to sign. Or reject.
I hope I don’t get ‘rejected’ again but I have a funny feeling I’m going to be going through this process a few more times yet.