As I write this my head is still hurting from all the shaking which it has endured since I came across the latest in bureaucratic nonsense involving those two old nemesis of mine; the local NHS and Walsall Council. Admittedly, it has been a while since I have had cause to take to the keyboards to highlight yet another piece of lunacy, overseen by those who at least, are supposed to exercise leadership and responsibility when spending what passes for the public purse in our area.
To put the matter into context: I am a type 2 diabetic and have been for several years now. Prior to changing GP’s – forced on me by geography rather than any competency issues it must be said – I used to be issued with a sharps box in order to safely dispose of the test strips and lancets with which I test my blood sugar. Luckily I am one of those fortunate people whose condition is fairly stable, so only need to check said blood sugar levels on very infrequent occasions. Consequently it has taken me quite a while to fill it up- a mere six years in fact (I did say checking of blood sugar was a very infrequent need on my part). Well today, I finally managed to fill said box up to, but not over, the line as instructed on the label. Today was also the day when I had to go for my yearly blood test, part of a two stage process ending with a practice nurse review or as I prefer to call it; “my annual bollocking!”.
So, by judicious application of forward-thinking principles (often dangerous when dealing with public servants programmed on computer says no principles, but you have to have faith in these unsettling times), I duly sealed the container so it could not be re-opened and took it off to my GP’s to hand over as was my previous practice. Having been summoned into the inner sanctum that was the blood testing room, I duly declared one sealed container for disposal. Imagine my surprise when I was informed that local NHS practices were not permitted to accept these from the public anymore. Why? Because since April 01st, local responsibility has passed from NHS England to Walsall Council, although the same specialist disposal company would retain the contract to physically remove and dispose of all clinical waste. So that’s okay then. What I had to do was go to the Reception and ask for a sharps letter – bear with me – which contained a telephone number for the local council (turns out it is the Clean & Green Department) and they would send out a form for me to complete etc etc. So duly having had the required amount of the red stuff extracted from my arm – not quite Hancock but near enough – I proceeded to the reception to get said letter.
The receptionist handed me said letter upon request and explained what I had to do. So far so good. However, she then informed me that I had to bring said form back to be signed off by my GP or other healthcare professional, before I could make arrangements to have the offending container removed safely from where it now sits in my kitchen. I know what you must all be thinking by now: yep, why can’t these forms be issued and signed off at the GP surgery and passed to the council so that the contractor can make arrangements to collect? You won’t be surprised to learn that there is no sound reason other than that is the process. Another classic case of buck passing between differing organs of the public service.
And if that’s not enough, patients irrespective of whether they are housebound or not now have to get a prescription, yes you read that right, a prescription, in order that a new sharps or similar container can be issued for use in the home. My common sense tells me surely it is more efficient to have a single collection point at the local GP’s for these things to be safely disposed of which at the same time, reduces vehicle stem mileage and number of stops made, meaning only those who are housebound and who need a dedicated collection and replacement service can be catered for?
Does this not make more sense? No, probably not if it keeps another council jobsworth employed to oversee a system that could and should be left to the local NHS. Doubtless there will be a postscript to report as/when the bureaucracy has run its course. But for now my head hurts again, so I am off for a lie down and a libation and maybe elicit some sympathy from the dog.
Until next time.