Being ill can be a pain – can’t it?
Over the recent weeks the press has been full of stories around the amount of patients and the severe waiting times at the UK NHS hospital accident and emergency departments – the so-called A&E Melt Down to give it the popular tag.
The increase has been blamed upon not enough beds, the growing number of elderly patients, the introduction of a new helpline with allegedly inexperienced call handlers, seasonal revelers tanked up with alcohol and drastic budget cuts.
In the good old days, if you got a sore back or a headache, you were sent to your bed with a hot water bottle and a couple of paracetamols. The chances are you would live – no Doctor required, unless it persevered over the next few days.
Nowadays its a whole new ball game. As soon as we get the odd pain or lumps or bumps, we consult the oracle. We search for the diagnosis of our ills and Worry at the mounds of Medical information displayed on the screen. We don’t understand the medical jargon it in most cases, and only see the worrying, Worst Case scenarios. We believe we have the worst case of a disease known to man, based upon the search results. We sit there and worry, worry turns to panic, and panic turns to getting a second opinion. So we phone to get a doctor’s appointment, and guess what, it’s the Christmas and New Year period, with limited access to your local GP. So with the concern about the severe medical condition that you are now convinced is getting worse in your body, you phone the NHS help line 111.
Now it’s odds on that when you get through, the helpful assistant will discuss your ailment and allay your fears, suggesting a visit to Tesco to pick up some paracetamol, and you will live to fight another day.
But let’s not forget that some people will avoid the help line and go directly to the manic A & E department, convinced they need immediate treatment. The melt down gets worse.
I’m not suggesting that Google is directly responsible, but it’s our modern day obsession for instant information which contributes to the problem. Who is to say that the information returned by the Search Engines is correct anyway? I’m sure the doctors and nurses hate nothing more than the symptoms being described using web speak that the patient can’t spell never mind understand.
Just use the head folks. If you are genuinely ill consult a real doctor and avoid the web doctors like the plague – or as we know it – a virulent contagious febrile disease that is caused by a bacterium of the genus!
About the author – Malcolm McNeill is an IT consultant based in Glasgow, UK. He is also the owner of successful websites BestCarHire.com and HolidayCampervan.com.