Monday, 21 April 2008

Drug Trafficing NHS Style

I have just had the most complicated, non-dissertation related, 2 hours of the whole year. My Dad has a hotel, and this afternoon a coach arrived from a retirement village "Up North". After unloading all the luggage it became clear that 7 cases had been left behind. Upsettingly this was due to a lack of communication in the group, a few people thought the cases they had left had been loaded on to the coach by someone else.

So we have 7 customers without luggage. As if not having all your clothes and toiletries isn't bad enough all 7 customers had their medication in their suitcases. I'm sure it doesn't take much imagination to visualise how upset these 6 ladies and 1 gentleman were.

As noone else in the building seems to have a heart I spent a few minutes getting everyone a cup of tea and calming them down a bit. Although not ideal as people's pensions don't give them much spending money, the clothing issue could be solved by a trip into town. This is only a 10 minute walk, and I was more than happy to drop off those who struggle with walking too far and to pick them up. What proved difficult is replacing the medication.

After some tears and panic I stupidly reassured these customers that I'd help them get their replacement medication sorted out. Easier said than done. The GPs in their home town were insistant they could take lists of their medication to a local GP and get emergency prescriptions. The local GPs said the pharmacy could do it from a fax from the home GPs. The pharmacist said he wouldn't give out anything from a fax and wanted everything signed by hand. Deadlock.

Trying to be smart I phoned a nurse I know at the local walk-in to see if they knew a doctor who would talk to the northern GP on the phone and sign the emergency prescriptions. As our walk-in is a nurse led service no doctors would be around until after 7pm. The northern GPs all close by 6pm.

So I talked to one of the northern GPs again and he agreed that under the emergency provision of medication act or some such legislation the pharmacy should just prescribe a short supply of the drugs with a fax. So I got him to phone the pharmacy. They still wouldn't budge.

After about half an hour of more calls backwards and forwards (wasting everybodies time), the pharmacy finally decided that as long as they could talk to the GP on the phone to confirm the fax was right they'd dispense the medication. Hurrah. This was until they saw how much medication was needed. One of the group is on 19 different tablets a day, the lowest number of tablets any one person in that group took was 6. So the pharmacy has decided again that it won't dispense the drugs.

I've just phoned the most helpful of the northern GPs again (it's his day off), and he's said he'll try and argue the case with the pharmacy. Meanwhile there are 7 upset and stressed out people sitting in the hotel lounge convinced they will die before they go home on Friday. Granted some of the drugs people are taking are probably not essential, and not having them for 4 days won't make a huge imapct on their overall health, but one person in particular suffers from bad angina and is petrified she won't be able to cope without her medication. Another told me she was on antibiotics for a kidney infection... surely 4 days without her medication will cause her harm.

When talking to the pharmacy/local GP about this apparently they told both people involved that they would just have to cope, and if they felt ill over their holiday they should just go to A&E. As if A&E isn't busy enough, and to make it worse the nearest A&E to us is a half hour drive away.

I'm starting to think I'd be better off doing a drug run Up North to pick up the missing cases... it would only by 6/7 hours either way....

I'm not quite sure what to make of this farce today. Yes it was the patients own faults for forgetting their medication, but it was a genuine mistake. I really hope it doesn't spoil their holiday too much.

Lily xXx

... just in case anyone is interested I still haven't been sent those results.

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