Thursday, April 25, 2024
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Is the NHS getting the picture? No. Here’s our invoice anyway


This is the latest instalment in Nick’s diary about his treatment for cancer and other issues.

I’M STILL being eaten alive by a ravenous necrotic ulcer called pyoderma gangrenosum, which isn’t taking notice of the guidelines on social distance.

So it’s time for my weekly appointment at the Dermatology Department of the local University Hospital.

It shall remain anonymous in deference to the wishes of the doctors and nurses involved. I hero-worship them and believe their brilliance deserves wider recognition but they are very modest and shun publicity.

What a contrast with one of my oncologists, who took four weeks to write a letter that would have helped get me a vital drug to stop the ulcer from eating me alive. But when a producer from BBC Newsnight called him with an offer of appearing on TV, talking about a subject outside oncology, he took the call in four milliseconds. Patients before politics? Tell that to my colostomy bag.

You can see my left foot here, if you can face it. Seriously, it is not for the faint-hearted. 

Anyway, much as I love limping down to the Maydie, as locals call the hospital, I’m banned from entering. I’m banned from even leaving my home. In fact, if there’s anyone in the house with me – and it’s not my house I’m living in any more – I have to scuttle into the corner of the room to maintain a distance.

So how do I get to see my friends, Dr A and Nurses B and C?

Luckily the NHS has an IT solution, doubtless purchased at vast expense.

Is it a video conference on Skype, Zoom or Lifesize? These are simple systems that work on any computer.

No. Naturally, it has to be more complicated than that. Otherwise, how can the IT supplier present the NHS with a jaw-dropper of a bill?

Under this system, Dr A has to send me a text with a link I can click on. I won’t be able to see him, but if I point the phone camera at my feet, he can see the wounds. And Nurse B and Nurse C can talk me through the de-briding (removing dead tissue) and wound dressing. Which will be hard to do with one hand on my phone.

Nurse B is very gentle, but Nurse C is a tough carer who insists that all wounds needs to be cleared of any yellow slough so that the new tissue, the pinkish stuff in the picture, is not prevented from growing. That involves an awful lot of painful scraping and sometimes razor work. She is deceptively quietly spoken, but boy, is she tough.

Anyway, at 2 pm Dr A sent me the text. I clicked on the link. It didn’t work because I don’t have the right browser. I tried downloading the right browser. But that proved complicated. It always is. 

It didn’t matter because Dr A wasn’t able to call me until 3pm. Since I can’t sit around with an open wound for an hour, I had no choice but to dress the wound and cover it up. (I’ve only got one white blood cell in my body to defend me and it was busy dying on another hill in my liver.)

I took a few photos and filmed videos and put them on my own website. But since it is an Instagram account, there was some reason why they couldn’t look at them.

So, nothing worked. The NHS will still get charged for the ‘solution’ provided by the IT supplier.

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Nick Booth
Nick Booth
Nick Booth is a freelance writer.

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