My Love Hate Relationship with the NHS


dealing with the NHS

Firstly I just want to say I am extremely grateful to live in a country that offers free healthcare, it's a real privilege. My experiences have been up and down not due to the ability of the staff or care given but due to chaotic system our fantastic and overworked Doctors, Nurses and Healthcare professionals have to work in.

If you live in the UK you will at some point have to deal with the NHS, whether this be simply for a check up with your GP, minor surgery or immunisations before travelling and the list goes on, it's an invaluable service that we all at some point rely on and a service I am extremely grateful for. The thing is like most people I feel very conflicted about it all as I have had so many positive but also negative experiences, mainly to do with long waiting lists, how rushed everything is and limited the service can be as well as the frustration that location certainly seems to have a role in the level of quality received and I know I am not alone when feeling like this.

I feel everyone is aware the service is being squeeze and is under immense strain, from Doctors, nurses to carers and admin staff are being over worked, positions cut and more pressure being applied which of course has a direct impact on the patients experience as well as seeing waiting lists soar. I have a few stories I could tell such as my GP  surgery losing my sons stool sample not once, not twice but three times and then when my mother being sent home from A&E three times due to a worsening infection only to nearly go into septic shock and then having to spend three weeks in hospital. On the flip side of that I have also had fantastic service from caring and committed staff trying to do their best in an organisation under strain.

When I dislocated and fractured my elbow a couple of years ago an ambulance attended me very quickly and took me to the closest A&E, after a fairly short waiting time I was seen in triage and the nurse managed to get my jumper off and immediately could see I had damaged my arm badly and needed a bed and medication to prevent me going into shock. I was whisked away to a ward, given morphine, scheduled a x-ray and once that came back I was taken to theatre to reset my arm, all of this and the next day I walked out in awe of the people who helped me and in even bigger awe that I didn't have to pay a huge bill at the end of it. On this occasion the NHS did a fantastic job, one which I will forever be grateful for.

Medical experience

On the other end of that a few years ago I tore my Anterior Cruciate Ligament in my knee, otherwise know as The ACL which is the ligament that provides stability within the knee and cannot repair itself, this has to be done by reconstructive surgery. It was a sporting injury and I still remember the exact moment it happened and the sheer amount of pain I was in. I was taken to A&E by a friend as I couldn't walk but the thing is with an ACL tear you can only pick it up with an MRI and not an x-ray which is all that was offered to me in A&E and despite my knee at this point being extremely swollen, the amount of pain I was in and I couldn't bear any weight on it at all I was sent home with some crutches and told nothing was wrong as the x-ray looked fine and to come to an out-patient physio appointment about 2 weeks later. That was a long fortnight I can tell you but I was lucky that the physiotherapist straight away could tell something was seriously wrong and immediately got me into the specialist clinic the same day. He was 99% sure I had torn my ACL but regardless I would still have to wait 3 months for an MRI before anything could be done, at least I was given a brace to help stabilise my knee as well as be put onto a physiotherapy program to help strengthen it.

Once the MRI confirmed I had torn my ACL clean and I would need surgery I was put again onto another waiting list and what should have been 6 months turned into nearly 18 months. When you tear your ACL your knee can give way which it did a few times usually just causing mild pain but then on one winter morning I was out walking the dog and my knee gave way, this time it was bad and I couldn't get up, my whole leg had twisted and it was clear more damage had been sustained, this left me with less mobility, this meant my surgery was pushed forward a little but still a year after when it should have been

Jelly sandals

On the actual day of surgery they felt it would be fairly straightforward for which the most part it was except when my leg had given away the last time it had also torn the cartilage, something they were not expecting as my MRI had taken place before my re-injury, this meant the surgery took longer and once they had done the ACL reconstruction all they had time to do was sew my cartilage together with the possibility that it may not hold in the long term. Despite this the care I received on the ward was excellent my surgeon was amazing with the time he had and as well as the physio during my rather long recovery and once again the fact I didn't have to pay anything is incredible although having waited so long, without a doubt, caused more damage than needed, additional surgery, as you will see in the next paragraph and longer recovery - if you are put in the same situation, you can receive medical treatment delayed advice and possibly even compensation. 

The thing is the story doesn't end here, a few years later I was putting my one-year-old into his seat, I turned to wave goodbye to my in-laws and suddenly my knee went, I was in excoriating pain and couldn't walk. I went to A&E, explained my history with my knee, had an X-ray and was sent home but again I knew something was wrong, I couldn't bend my leg at all, it was stuck in an L-shape and I couldn't walk or pick up my son so I immediately made an appointment with my GP. Luckily he was fantastic and called the hospital furious I had not been referred for an MRI or to see a consultant. I was given a referral appointment to a consultant a few weeks later who suspected I had re-torn the cartilage and I would have to wait up to 6 months for an MRI despite the fact I had limited mobility, had to put all my freelance work as a photographer on hold and that I was the main carer for a very young child, I simply wasn't a high priority.

So this is where I became desperate and depressed by a situation that made me feel stuck, no one person is to blame for this, it's just the way the system works. Luckily I was extremely fortunate enough that my mother stepped in and helped pay for an MRI privately as I simply couldn't go on in this situation. The reason for my leg not being able to bend was my cartilage had torn and wedged itself between my knee bone stopping me being able to move it properly. The consultant told me that I would be looking at another long waiting time for surgery despite the fact it affected my mobility so badly but if I went privately they could do it anytime I wanted. The crazy thing is the reason why I was having this cartilage problem was because of the initial long waiting list for my original surgery meaning I injured my leg further while waiting for it to be fix in the first place. Once again my mother stepped in and had to access her life savings to pay for my surgery so I could work again, drive again and be able to pick up my son again.

keeping time

The doctors, nurses and surgeons on the NHS all do a fantastic job, it's because of them I was able to bring two healthy boys into this world but they are also so limited and overwhelmed and waiting list times are becoming excessive. One of my good friends in South Africa tore his ACL, had the MRI the next day and reconstructive ALC surgery three days later, his recovery was much quicker with no long-term issues like I had and he was able to return to competitive sport and work quickly. My waiting caused more extensive damage to my knee and therefore more surgeries and more strain on the NHS instead of it being dealt with quickly, the thing is no one has the answer to this issue. Personally I only got to my GP when I feel it is absolutely necessary as they already have so much to sort and deal with on a daily basis and with any free service you always have those that will take advantage. I don't envy the people who work for the NHS, doing the most they can on a daily basis but it does feel like changes need to be made. Also there is is help out there should your waiting list cause you major issues and your thinking of making an NHS claim, there is support and people you can talk to although hopefully you will never need to do that.

This is an associated post although my experience is purely my own. I feel privileged to have access to our NHS service but I am simply sharing my experience. 


  1. Sorry to read what you went through. This must have been tough having to go through all of that. I have never had to use them much until now. I am hoping things go good for my Daughter over the next few weeks with different appointments she has to have with one thing or another. So far they have been great they have found out she has a eye tumour and Coeliac Disease. I am hoping they look after her.

  2. So sorry to hear about your negative experience with the NHS! I have so much respect for the everyone who works tirelessly in the care system... I was diagnosed with TB when I first moved to the UK and if it wasn't for the NHS, I don't know what would've happened! Also, last year I started to develop Eczema and I have to say the treatment and care I received was top-notch... I know a lot of people (not you) like to moan about our healthcare system and the National Insurance, but I appreciate it 100% :) I hope your knee is doing better now!

    Oliver x

  3. 18 bloody months to wait for a blown ACL?????? I can't fathom that kind of wait,there is no justified reason to make anyone wait that long.

  4. Oh my goodness, that's awful what happened to you, thank goodness your mother had savings to go private.

  5. Oh what a nightmare! The wait lists can be insane but that really is next level. I think the NHS is just under so much pressure it was never meant to take this kind of load of population.

  6. Oh goodness this must have been awful, I had no idea waiting times could be so long as luckily we have never had to use the NHS much x

  7. I am fortunate to say so far in my life {touch wood} I have only had good experience with the NHS but that hasn't always been the case for my other family members and like you they have had best treatment one minute and shitty the next.

  8. Oh I am so sorry to hear that, it must have been a stressful and horrible experience.

  9. Sorry to hear about your experience. I have a love and hate relationship with the NHS as well.


Lovely comments

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