How can the elderly frail, on low incomes, get non-emergency medical treatment out of surgery hours?
Today (Saturday) a Moseley resident over 80 years old, who had been suffering overnight and during the morning with a painful infection, tried to get some treatment for the condition, which the NHS adviser later said must be treated within 24 hours.
She discovered that her GPs had withdrawn the out-of-hours service for their patients and had transferred responsibility to the relevant NHS non-emergency number – 111. No longer will a doctor readily attend a person with restricted mobility.
The 111 adviser said she should ring a pharmacist, who replied that he could not treat this condition, and once again she was advised to ring 111. This time she was offered a timed appointment but “Ring and Ride is unable to take people to hospital appointments because the National Health Service Act states that people are entitled to access NHS Patient Transport Services in accordance with their eligibility criteria”. No such service was said to be available.
She was then told to go to a walk-in centre several miles away. How? The Ring and Ride service would not take her and travelling on two buses to get there was not possible.
The Ring and Ride service appears – in this instance – NOT to be “a door to door, highly accessible minibus service for people of any age living in one of the seven metropolitan districts for the West Midlands, who have a permanent or temporary mobility impairment, which makes it very difficult or impossible to use conventional bus services”.
She had to decide to wait, untreated, and hope for the best.