Customer Service Part 1 The Public Sector

Reflecting on the last week it occurs to me that the common thread that either improved or ruin the day was customer service; the Vale of Glamorgan Visible Services Department winning the award for the supremely annoying (see Disabled Trash post). Whether I will get round to finding the appropriate email address to write my annoyed spinster of Barry missive is currently an open question; certainly it’s unlikely that I’ll prioritise doing the deed before bin day this week! But hey there’s the advantage of fortnightly black bag collection I’ve suddenly got an extra 10 days to attend to the matter how marvellous! Oooh a smug feeling has suddenly descended on me which means I won’t have to resort to little white lies when Auntie enquires about progress.

During our weekly conversation this morning Auntie was saying she was concerned she was losing her marbles as she’d had no recollection of doing something or other the significance of which escapes me right now! What did make me smile was her telling me that my mother had said she knew Granny was deteriorating when she found crumbs in the cutlery drawer so Auntie always ensures there is no possibility of finding herself in this position. There followed a prolonged conversation about how she never sliced bread on the work surface especially not above the cutlery drawer; personally I take it a step further avoiding bread altogether! Neatly sidestepping the ‘if you had a freezer’ conversation that for some reason is always connected to the subject of bread; please refrain from attempting to seek sense in this particular thread as there is none, believe me I’ve looked!

 Monday was possibly the low spot on the customer service front (aside from the black bag matter to which I have already referred). After a weekend in the garden en famille I was feeling a little weak and willing (quite where that phrase comes from I’m not sure as presumably when one is feeling weak one is also feeling somewhat less than willing). Gardening and 72 hours in the company of other persons is strenuous at the best of times; last weekend the Medley family became Titchmarsh Style Groundforce and by early afternoon on Saturday had tidied both front and rear gardens removing all on site rubbish to the municipal tip! Poor Dad was deprived of a trip to the new Recycling Centre as my brother’s car was so full there was only room for two people; he got his revenge by completing the crossword without me!

As you may recall I am currently being reprogrammed courtesy of the NHS free prescription service; the new drugs are regularly being popped and finally today the pain seems to be under control. The last ten days have, however, not been a bundle of laughs and it was for this reason I popped to the doctors for a top up of the ‘break through’ pain sticks by which of course I mean ‘compressed lozenge with integral oromucosal applicator’. And you wonder why I refer to them as lollies! The Actiq or Fentanyl are expensive and the trade off is that I reduce my use of this medication in exchange for the new ones. But of course it’s not about cost until it is about cost by which of course I mean it depends on who you speak to and when you speak to them. This week revealed the right of the gentleman (doctor) to change his mind.

When the delightful young male doctor wrote the prescription out 12 days or so ago he assured me that whilst the health body was scrutinising pain medication in particular it wasn’t just about cost; he has my welfare at heart. The new drug comes in 50mg tablets and I was to start with 1 twice a day increasing until the pain disappeared. Now here is the rub, I have what is quaintly described as ‘complex pain’ i.e. difficult to manage/control/understand/diagnose/deal with etc. Ergo I am a difficult customer oops sorry patient.

 Friday we had 50 twice a day; ditto Saturday and no it’s not working hence gardening with both a lolly and a cigarette in me chops; terribly unsophisticated image especially when coupled with a ropey tracksuit! Extra medication is required to get through a screening of Bel Ami (one of my all time favourite books; not one of the best films I’ve sat through). Sunday I up the dose to 100 in the morning increasing to 150 in the evening by which time family have thankfully left as my mood is no longer a sunny one. By now I have worked out that young doctor was being a little ambitious giving 28 tablets and saying ‘keep me posted’!

 Monday, as I’ve mentioned, sees me back at the doctor’s surgery. As I park I see young doctor striding across the car park, a purposeful walk with long lean legs that draws a spinster’s eye as his gait is engagingly graceful. I assume he’s heading for the Seat Ibiza but he gets into a sporty vehicle which causes me to raise my eyebrow as I am suddenly seeing him in a different light. Irritatingly my eyesight isn’t quite good enough to see the model and I’m not about to be caught out squinting at his rear!

 Inside the surgery the receptionist is sympathetic to my plight and says she’ll get the doctor to write me a prescription before he starts afternoon surgery. She agrees to phone me once the script is ready which she does just before 3pm. I’ve already spoken to the pharmacist asking her to place the order for the drugs only procured for yours truly. It’s all going swimmingly; or so I think as I pick up the prescription and drive to the Chemist. By now the pain is completely out of control and I confess that walking is EXTREMELY difficult. I hate looking like a disabled person; of course I am but I prefer not to actually look disabled. Yes ladies I am in denial and frankly you would be too in my position!

Now here is where it all starts to go horribly wrong. Up to now I have been prescribed 150 ‘lollies’ per month at 1200 micrograms strength; naively I assume ‘we’re all in this together’ (ha ha) and the prescription in my hand is for the same. I haven’t checked because I have no reason to. What the script is actually for is 50 at 800 micrograms; a problem on at least 2 fronts, one the chemist doesn’t have any of this strength and won’t have until the next day and two this strength is sufficient (I speak from experience). The pharmacist comes over to where I am sitting rigid and grey attempting to distract myself with Twitter (it is not working). ‘Now Miss Medley I know you’re not going to want to hear this but the prescription isn’t what we were expecting’. Joy was funnily enough not the emotion that engulfed me at that point!

The situation is resolved by the doctor agreeing with the Pharmacist to give me a prescription for the 15 1200 strength in the Controlled Drugs cupboard; I take them home to bed where I consume them until (four hours later) the pain is dampened down enough to stand. What annoyed me was the doctor didn’t tell me he was going to not only reduce the strength but the amount (he had previously given me 800’s plus 200’s on the basis that a drop from 1200 to 800 was a big one) and that when the pharmacist spoke to the doctor’s receptionist she was told the drugs were very expensive. Someone is not being honest; a difficult conversation will be had this week so brace yerself young man the lady’s not happy!

 Curiously both examples of poor customer service to which I refer were within the public sector; it seems not only is there no such thing as a free lunch neither is there such a thing as a free prescription.

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