LISTEN: Sarah’s difficulties facing the healthcare system during the pandemic
Hi, my name is Sarah and I am going to report on the difficulties I have had on facing the health care system.
One of the problems I have had is that there is a lack of communication. You try and phone and all you get is an answering phone message saying ‘We are currently dealing with Covid-19 and we can’t take your call… please leave a message’. You leave a message and they don’t get back to you. Which if you have got an appointment and you are trying to rearrange it is not helpful.
They keep changing the appointment so it gets so confusing that I don’t know where I am with the appointments and then you try and phone about the appointments and then no one is answering and they don’t call you back.
Also they keep saying you need to book online using this app. Not everyone knows how to use the app to book an appointment and not everyone has a smart phone to use these apps or a laptop.
And with dyslexia I find online forms confusing and difficult to use and the telephone is difficult because of the hearing problems I have and when I try to explain that when you have a learning disability or learning difficulty or a lot of different health problems you are meant to be able to see a nurse or a doctor face to face, they completely disregard the reasonable adjustments act.
They use Covid as an excuse every time they muck something up, every time they make a mistake it’s always ‘it’s Covid’. And even now the health system and people are still using Covid as an excuse.
The doctors are not very sympathetic at times when you try to phone up and say you need an appointment about medication. I’m on a lot of medication and I don’t feel comfortable discussing the medication over the phone with the doctor. I prefer to do it in person and even the hospital has told them that under the reasonable adjustments act they can see people face to face, they are just choosing not to.
It’s really affecting my mental health because I’m nervous about changing medication when I know it’s really difficult to actually get face to face. And it’s not helping with the mental health because its making anxiety and depression worse, and they keep talking about having another lockdown.
They need to work out, if we have another full lockdown, how they will deal with people with learning difficulties and multiple health problems in terms of seeing people face to face. When I keep hearing that we might have another lockdown that just makes me more anxious and feel more frustrated because they won’t see people now so what will happen next time when there is all this talk that we might have another lockdown by August? I think there needs to be a clear plan of what would happen if we do have another lockdown.
How do they work things so that people that have mental health problems and multiple health problems or who have a learning disability or difficulty which makes it difficult for them to communicate by phone? Or if it’s an elderly person how do they get an appointment?. There should always be someone answering the telephones and if you can’t phone up to speak to a person it’s not helpful to your mental health because you’re constantly banging your head against a wall and getting no response. The apps can be really difficult to use and they don’t always even work. When you try to phone up to ask for help with it no one wants to help.
Thank you for listening.
Listen: Sarah’s view on how access to healthcare could be improved for Disabled people in the event of future lockdowns.
In the future I would like the government to make sure that when it comes to the healthcare system that the Equalities Act within it includes what would happen if we had another lockdown and to make sure that there are still reasonable adjustments being followed.
For example, so that disabled people and people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and learning difficulties can still access the health system face to face or in a format that is appropriate to them.
For some people, doing appointments on zoom doesn’t work, says Sarah.
And to allow GPs and hospitals to actually use their initiative if they see on someone’s records that they are disabled and they have got multiple health problems that, hang on, it might actually be more appropriate to see the person face to face.
The doctors and nurses need to make sure that they are still communicating with each other properly, that the different departments know what they are doing and that the communication between the GPs and the hospitals, and the hospitals and the GPs is still clearly done. To make sure that letters are still sent out to the GPs, to make sure the GPs actually follow up on things and for the GPs to make sure that they are actually following up with the letters the hospital sends and that the GPs actually listens to the specialist from hospitals about how to maybe alter medication or maybe to try something new.
For them to keep the patient informed, I think it really is important the communication in the future is improved both by telephone, by letter, when it comes to face to face consultation making sure that patients actually get a copy of their records, that there is always someone face to face that they can see for an appointment and that they can actually speak to someone face to face and they can phone up and speak to a person rather than having to leave a message.
So you know, better guidelines for both hospitals and GPs and I think that part relies on the government to make clearer guidelines within the equality act on what to do if there is a lockdown in regards to seeing people face to face that have a disability or who are disabled.