My healthcare experience is a bit of a mixed bag. I do feel cared for, not abandoned. I do feel cared for when it comes to anything ‘uniformed’. They have me registered, they have not forgotten about me, they treat me well most of the time. But when it comes to anything out of the ordinary, anything that I introduced then I feel somehow ignored, postponed. As I say a missed bag.
I have been trying to put off dealing with my health issues since the pandemic. Partly because I am anxious about the possibility of catching Covid-19 while attending healthcare, partly because I keep hearing that the NHS is busy.
I have visited my doctor’s surgery only twice during the last year. In the summer I saw a nurse who checked my blood pressure as it was required for continuation of my prescribed medication. However, when I was supposed to have my annual blood check, the laboratory was closed. Since then, there have been lock downs and increases in infection so I did not insist on having the test as I am anxious about it and as long as I keep getting my medication, I am actually happy to keep it this way for now.
The second occasion I visited my doctor’s surgery was to have my 1st Covid-19 vaccination. It went all well and smooth. I was glad it was done at a familiar place, my medical center, as opposed to one of the large vaccination centers. It was a good experience. I was vaccinated at the start or ahead of my age-group, possibly as I am a carer, but perhaps it was just good luck.
I have, however, discovered recently that I missed my Flu vaccination. We were moved into more settled accommodation in August in between the lock-downs. It was challenging and it took me a while to consider changing address with my GP. When I went home from the Covid-19 vaccination in March I stopped over at my old address to see if there were any letters for me. I had found out that I had missed the December invitation for a flu vaccination sent from my GP. So they had thought about me, it’s just that my housing challenges got in the way.
To make the matters even more challenging, I had also received a text to my basic phone to register my address on line or risk being struck off my GP register. The possibility of not having a GP in the middle of pandemic was very frightening. And they expected me to do it all electronically, but would not send the link to my other phone, which has access to the internet. This was upsetting, because I did not properly know how to do it. Luckily I got help from Groundswell with this and all is well now.
I have also received, very recently, an invitation to book a smear test and a mammography test by the NHS, as they keep an eye on my milestones.
However, I have also been experiencing fatigue and muscle, bone and joint pain that is worsening since 2015, but a cause has never been found. I would like to book an appointment for this but I am putting it off as I feel I will be wasting my time and energy as they are too busy with things that are already diagnosed or easy to diagnose.
I also need to see a dentist for a check-up, but I am not registered to any dentist since 2012. When I tried to get registered at a dentist in the past I did not succeed. Dentist required me to prove that I was entitled to NHS treatment, which I did not know how to prove. I am a long-term permanent resident in the UK, but there is no official residence card. It is all electronic, which is a challenge for me. I additionally did not know how to prove my entitlement to free treatment based on my partner’s benefit and household income.
Since then I had broken off large fillings, so I welcomed the opportunity to be treated by Crisis Christmas dentist at 2018 and 2019. Further on, I was treated by a community dentist through a homeless charity. The community dentists were very good. However, I cannot get more treatment by the community dentist. I am anxious about trying to get registered to a new dentist during Covid-19, so I am putting it off too.
So this is my experience, as I say a mixed bag.