Ally McLaws – Living with cancer during a pandemic: Some constructive criticism from a very grateful NHS patient

I’ve never felt closer to the NHS in my life before … even when I worked right inside the beating heart of it for 18 years.

First off, more than 20 months ago a faster scan and a faster decision to remove a lung and a tumour would almost certainly have cured my cancer without chemo and everything else that has followed.

My waiting-time guarantee was breached and so was my lung wall. That resulted in a terminal diagnosis and an ongoing very costly monitoring, intervention and treatment plan.

Patient convenience and pharmacy economics: co-ordinating pharmacy prescriptions. It’s sporadic between patient, GP practice and pharmacy. Multiple trips are organised, texts are sent regarding collections within days or even hours of earlier pick-ups. It’s all so inefficient to patients and costly to the NHS.

Nothing is for nothing and some things should be valued more: I took my fairly large bag of drugs last time to save the hospital pharmacy having to start a new supply line. They were taken and locked away – lost and never seen again, and no-one seemed very bothered because they got me another big bag of supplies.

Lack of foresight nearly cost three nights’ bed and board in a high-cost ward bed. I was admitted on the Wednesday and by Friday there was a huge pressure for beds. There was nothing being done for me apart from monitoring and the use of a nebuliser to deliver medicated steam into a mask to free up and keep my chest clear of infection and gunk.

I could be discharged as soon as assessed for a nebuliser to use at home – but because it was a Friday afternoon, that couldn’t be done until Monday at the earliest and issued on the Tuesday.

I took a note of the NHS nebuliser make and model I was using on the ward and ordered one the same via Amazon Prime to be delivered the very next morning.

Being exactly the same model and by supplying it myself, I could get round the NHS assessment protocol and the NHS would give me the prescription capsules to use with it–– otherwise a vitally needed acute hospital medical bed would have been blocked for four or five days.

Farewell footnote: normally it is a nice thing when someone on Twitter opts to follow you. Being a former NHS employee, I know a lot of medical and admin people in the service and many keep in touch and read this column.

One column recently discussed the sense of discussing and being part of making my own funeral arrangements. Next thing was a post on Twitter: NHSGGC Palliative Care is now following you.

Aye, cheers for that.

Ally McLaws is a freelance specialist in writing, business marketing and reputation management. See the full range of services on offer and view all previous back issues of this column at:

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992