My Freedom Pass expires on 31 March and my local council kindly sent me a renewal form in January. A Freedom Pass means I can travel around London for free, subject to some restrictions. I went to my local hospital on 30 January and my audiologist Mirza took my renewal forms and accompanying evidence (copy of passport and TV Licence) from me, saying he would send them to the council with the required documentation (my audiogram and a letter stating my hearing loss from the hospital). I made it clear the deadline was 31 March and the forms needed to be sent as soon as possible. No problem. Or so I was told.
In the middle of February, I asked my colleague Amanda to contact my local council and check on the progress of my renewal. They hadn’t received anything. She called the hospital. They gave her the run-around between different departments and eventually she was put through to the right person, after about 30 minutes. This person said there is no application form in my file and that they don’t post out forms for patients anyway. So where is my personal information??? Binned, shredded, mailed, or what?! Does someone now possess a copy of my TV licence and passport?!!!
My friend Karen called the council yesterday and asked them to send another renewal form. They said there is a yellow part which my doctor can fill in. What yellow part? Why a different form, and why am I now told my doctor can complete it rather than my audiologist? The doctor would have been a lot easier, quicker, and let’s face it, honest. The council said they would send out the form immediately, by first class mail. Kudos to them.
I walked to the hospital yesterday with Karen and oh boy, was Karen’s back up (she’s brilliant). I had written a letter of complaint explaining the situation, and gave it to the receptionist. It was addressed to Bob, the head audiologist, and asked what had happened to my personal information. The receptionist is one of the rudest people I have ever met, abrupt and condescending don’t even come close. She treated us as if we were the dirt on the bottom of her shoes. She took the letter and took it to Mirza, who then came into reception and started flapping about. He had my file and pulled out my renewal form from the council.
– I will do this letter for you now.
He went to the printer in the receptionist’s office, I could see him flapping about, panicking, then he snapped imperiously at the receptionist,
– This letter is address to Bob. He can deal with this.
And he stormed off.
The receptionist went off with the letter and came back,
– Bob’s busy, you’ll have to come back another day.
– No. We are staying put. We’re not leaving until we get that letter. We’re staying here all night if we have to. We’re not leaving without that letter.
The look on the receptionist’s face was absolutely priceless. She couldn’t believe that someone had actually stood up to her.
She swanned off. In the meantime, Mirza came back into reception with a patient, a young man, who was picking up his earmoulds. Karen was visibly shocked at how rude Mirza was to him, I could tell he was over-exaggerating his speech and being very loud and condescending towards him.
The receptionist came back with Bob. Bob explained, very nicely and calmly, that he’s in the middle of a procedure at the moment and so can’t reply to the letter right now. Karen explained the situation and Bob listened. She said we’ve walked a mile and a half in the pouring rain to get here. She said I’ve waited two months for Mirza to send the information. She said now I have missed the deadline as the council also need four weeks to process the renewal. And we’ve walked a mile and a half in the pouring rain. She said I’ve been lied to on the phone. She said Mirza had agreed to write the letter then changed his mind and stormed off. She said she was disgusted by Mirza’s rudeness. And we’ve walked a mile and a half in the pouring rain. And we want an apology from Mirza.
Bob apologised, and said he would write the letter himself on his laptop on the way home. He asked if I had another appointment booked or needed anything done. I said no, but that I would like to change to another audiologist. Bob said I am welcome to see anyone I like, including him. I’ve seen Bob before and he’s super-duper professional. He explained he’s hard of hearing himself. His attitude was a world apart from Mirza’s and the receptionist’s. Calm, professional, respectful, polite.
I’m now wondering, what gives hearing people the idea that they have a right to be condescending and arrogant towards deaf people?
Or is it that because the NHS provides free hearing aids, the NHS staff think they can be disrespectful towards its’ patients? I know that NHS doctors can be very condescending towards nurses and some patients. Treatment like this in the private sector is unheard of. It’s unthinkable.
Are we now reduced to paying for respect??
Karen’s parting shot,
– Your rude staff need sorting out, they need some management training!
I got up at the crack of dawn this morning and went to visit my doctor’s surgery, and asked if they would sign the form. They said sorry, there should be a yellow part. I’m hoping tomorrow’s post will bring either the form with it’s yellow part or the letter from the hospital.
Sigh. Tomorrow’s a new day. Oh boy.
Score : NHS 0 – Private sector 1
(And no, lucky me, I don’t live in Lewisham!)