When I had a breakdown, my GP was the person whose job it was to “save” me. She was the person to whom my boss sent me to get a sick note, and she was the one who had to deal with me in between ineffective visits with the local community mental health team.
I was asked to write about my care story, and what people should expect from their dealings with medical professionals, and I decided that rather than write a negative piece about the failings of mental health support in the NHS – something we probably all know about already – it might be nice to give an example of someone who did an excellent job.
I won’t go into the details of my breakdown; I’ve written about that before at great length. But my GP was the one I saw the most often. Every Friday I would drag myself to the surgery, where I would sit in the waiting room pretending to read a book and praying that nobody I knew would come through the door before my name was called. I would go in to see the doctor, and she would ask me how I was. She would usually ask me to give the community mental health people more of a chance, and she would often ask me not to kill myself. Then she would give me a sick note for a week, and make me an appointment to come back and see her the following Friday.
We always went over the allotted time frame for a routine GP appointment. I was always late in for my appointment, and even more late out. Everyone in the waiting room knew that this particular doctor was always running late, but we all chose to make our appointments with her, and to just put up with her running late because she probably treated everyone else with the genuine care and attention I received. In short, she saved my life. It’s a sad but true fact that at the time, she was the only person checking in with me. I spoke to her much more often than any of my friends or family. She kept me afloat.
Later on, when I found myself pregnant with S, struggling with sore hips, stuck in an abusive relationship and worried about where I would live once my baby was born, it was this GP who wrote a very strongly worded letter to the local council. I had been told that I could potentially be put in “emergency accommodation” anywhere in the county and my GP was appalled at this. I found the letter she wrote the other day, and it makes interesting reading; she references my mental health issues but also the physical issues of having to catch a bus for a long to work every day with hip pain that already meant I was unable to sit still at my desk for more than half an hour at a time, if they housed me somewhere else in the county. I’m not sure how much sway her letter had, but within a couple of weeks of it being sent a home had been found for me in the city centre.
When it comes to medical negligence, it’s always useful to know what is and is not to be expected of medical professionals. I would say that my GP went well above and beyond what is to be expected, but why shouldn’t we expect that doctors care what happens to us?
If you are thinking about contacting medical negligence solicitors, here are some factors to bear in mind:
- the injury suffered should have been significant
- The injury suffered must have been at least partially the fault of negligent medical treatment
- You must be aware of the individual or institution which is potentially at fault for the negligent treatment
- It must have been less than three years since you realised this.