FOLLOWING on from last week’s Editor’s View, I thought I would add my twopence halfpenny’s worth.

I don’t go to my doctor’s surgery very often. In fact, when I checked, it’s more than six years since I was last there.

Perhaps I’ve just been lucky and I’ve managed to dodge the various flu bugs that have done the rounds over recent years.

Anyway, I did have a bit of a problem the other week, a bad chest and trouble catching my breath, nothing dramatic, but I felt it was probably better to get myself checked out, especially as I was going away for a few days and didn’t really fancy being in Spain if it wasn’t getting any better.

So I phoned my doctor’s surgery for an appointment.

There’s no rush, I mistakenly thought, I’m happy to come in any time over the next few days.

And that’s where the problem started.

I was very polite and helpful, so I thought, as I asked: “Have you got an appointment? Some time in the next couple of days will be fine but I’d really like to be checked over before I go away.”

And the reply was: “You can’t book appointments in advance, you can only book on the day.”

Great, I thought. I’m going to be seen even sooner than I expected, knowing how busy my surgery can be. “I’ll have an appointment today then,” I said, “any time will do.”

Yes, it was all going far too well and I was immediately brought back to reality.

“We don’t have any appointments left for today,” I was told.

This then left me, the poorly patient, in a bit of a quandary. They didn’t have any appointments for today and their system wouldn’t let me book one in advance for the day after so how on earth do I get to see a doctor?

I put this question to the nice lady on the end of the phone.

“Well,” she said, “you’ll have to ring us at 8.30 tomorrow morning and we’ll see if we can fit you in.”

She then added the somewhat apocryphal warning: “Don’t leave it too long after 8.30, though. The appointments go really quickly.”

I couldn’t resist asking her what would happen if, when I rang the next day, I’d missed the boat again.

“You’ll just have to ring up at 8.30 the following morning,” she said.

I really wasn’t happy about this at all. As I said, I don’t go to see the doctor very often and the prospect of morning after morning of futile phone calls didn’t fill me with any great sense of wellbeing.

Finally I asked her if there was any way round the system. “Yes,” she said, “We have some emergency appointments we hold back – for emergencies. Are you an emergency?

What a terrible question to ask. I’m not a doctor. How would I know if I’m an emergency?

My chest problem could have been a minor infection or it could have been the start of pneumonia or pleurisy.

That’s why you go to the doctors, to find out these things.

I could have said yes, I’m an emergency, thereby taking the appointment from a genuine emergency.

Or I could have been on the brink of a serious illness but decided to ‘man up’ and not bother the doctor, which was what I decided to do.

In the end, and not feeling any better, I had to get someone to drive me miles to an NHS walk-in centre where I was seen by a nurse-practitioner within 15 minutes and was prescribed antibiotics.

But this does pose a question. Surely in this day and age, there must be a better system of getting to see your GP.

Is it any wonder people take the line of least resistance and just haul themselves off to the nearest accident and emergency department?

I’d be really interested to hear if your doctor has a better system than mine then perhaps I can pass on a few tips to the nice lady at my surgery.

Thanks for asking, yes I’m feeling fine now. And no, I don’t smoke and haven’t done for the past 10 years.