I’m a cancer patient and it’s obvious the NHS is under-funded – Helen Martin

EVERYONE in the country, Scotland itself and the entire UK, is aware that the NHS is under pressure, and under-financed with staff shortages – some of which are critical and can cause serious delays, with even mix-ups over appointment times.

EVERYONE in the country, Scotland itself and the entire UK, is aware that the NHS is under pressure, and under-financed with staff shortages – some of which are critical and can cause serious delays, with even mix-ups over appointment times.

From some patients’ experiences, their clinic is magnificent and super-functional. Others haven’t gone so well.

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Last week, a lady I know turned up at the Western General for a five-year post cancer review, to discover after a long wait that the clinic had been cancelled, as had her appointment, but she hadn’t been told. Her morning’s work had been scuppered and she wasn’t best pleased. She had also in the past missed appointments because hospital notification wasn’t delivered until after the appointment date.

My times at the Western General Breast Unit have been positive. My first mastectomy was 16 years ago, and I was back at work within three months. I was diagnosed again in May 2018 with cancer in the other breast. Since then I have had three operations, breast infection treatment, X-rays, scans, three ultra-sound checks and investigations, oncology appointments in Ward 1, quite regular contact with Ward 6, countless appointments with my surgeon, and my next appointment is scheduled for November.

I’m on first name terms with a few of the breast nurses, especially the lovely Marion. It’s almost a home from home!

But at the end of May I received a letter which appeared to be from the NHS Lothian Patient Experience Team, but turned out to be signed by an NHS senior executive and relating to “Treatment Time Guarantee”. Despite my next op being scheduled for June 19, the letter said: “You are no longer waiting for treatment and I apologise the NHS did not see you within this time” (which appeared to be an irrelevant period of the last 12 weeks).

My feedback e-mail, explained this made no sense, was completely inaccurate, and didn’t seem to reflect a reliable system of assessing how units met targets.

Some patients might even have recognised that as some form of cancellation of an upcoming operation. I sent that on June 3 and haven’t yet received a reply.

It seems that at least some of the NHS’s problems, including rescheduling of appointments, are not down to the units, the wards, the consultants or the shortage of nurses, doctors, beds or radiologists, but administration and corporate running of the service.

To be fair it is a massive organisation dealing with life and death, suffering, diagnosis and treatment of the entire population. Who could expect it to be perfect?

The day of my last operation was so busy the day unit, the ward, the theatres, the anaesthetists’ consultations, the surgeons rushing about and the massive queue of patients made it the busiest I had ever seen.

It didn’t damage my trust but it made me realise the unit needs more beds, another ward, more nurses on higher salaries, more doctors and surgeons plus higher investment. That’s only one unit.

Perhaps NHS admin and corporate management also needs more investment to achieve smooth running. And the waiting time some practices have for GP appointments is dire.

NHS under-funding is now not just clear to the professionals, it’s becoming more and more obvious to patients.

Why would anyone want to watch ‘Eejits Island’?

OH, Love Island . . . is it meant to be a comedy or a revelation of how stupid some young folk can be. Surprised that Edinburgh is in Scotland? Insisting Barcelona is in Italy? Or is Italy in Rome?

Allegedly, it’s about sex and flirtation but watching a cage of mice or a pond of toads reproducing might be more intellectual. “Eejits Island” would be a more appropriate title.

Reality shows have produced some suicidal tragedies but this Island is also an intelligence tragedy, not just for the islanders but for their families and any viewers who are so thick they want to watch it.

In my view Botox, boobs, pert bums, sex and brainlessness amount to special needs people being exploited, with even more income from the Love Island Shop! It belongs to a semi-porn website, not a main TV channel.

Not all donors can commit to a direct debit

APART from bucket shakers, the number of charities that ask the public to give what they can or wish to, is reducing. Increasingly, the method is to get folk to sign up to monthly direct debits so the charity can predict its income and spend accordingly.

Guide Dogs, Water Aid, Action Aid, Red Cross, Unicef and the SSPCA are just a few that push for monthly “subs”.

Curiously, many of them find it difficult to process a one-off offer of £10. At this time, when so many people are on a tight budget, there are months when they could donate and months when they couldn’t. And direct debits join the nasty household bills list.

Why don’t charities do both – direct debit donations or a one-off gift? Retired people will almost certainly go for the latter with donations coming from the heart, not as a banking commitment.

Festival crime is our punishment

POLICE Chief Inspector Murray Starkey has described crime, hate crime and sexual assault as a “byproduct” of Edinburgh’s crowded and diverse Festival season when the population doubles.

He’s right. But it’s sad, embarrassing, and costly to increase the local force. Isn’t limiting or reducing rather than growing tourism another answer?