I must relate something which happened to me last week.

First, I’ll set the scene. Last month, I had a blood test to check that the new empagliflozin tablets I’d started taking weren’t harming my kidneys. I also need a prescription every month for other meds. The doctor’s surgery is a half-mile away – I can just about make it but I need plenty of breaks along the way, and it is exhausting. The upshot is that I combined the blood test with picking up the new prescription. Normally, I drop the request in and it gets fulfilled by the dispensory, but this time the nurse printed the prescription out directly.

When the doctor’s normally fulfil a prescription, you get two slips of paper. The first is the prescription itself, which can then be taken to a pharmacy to exchange for the meds, the second is a slip to allow you to order some more meds in a month’s time. By issuing this slip, it ensures that the process can go on and on every month.

During my visit to the nurse, she printed the prescription out, but didn’t give me the slip to order any more. In fairness, I forgot to check, there and then, but I shouldn’t have to. When I did realise this, I just thought I’d pop along to the surgery and ask them to print this slip out for me.

Again to try to minimise my trips to the surgery, I waited until I needed some more meds. Which was last week. So I walked to the surgery – the normal hard work – and asked them to print off my form. The receptionist I spoke to refused me. Just refused me – without even offering any avenue by which I could get my meds.

So I had to walk home empty-handed. bear in mind that my disability must be pretty obvious to all but the most obtuse observer, and there was this woman just sending me away! And from a doctor’s surgery!

Once home, I decided that theonly way I was going to get my meds was by seeing someone in authority, so I phoned them up again, this time to make an appointment with a doctor. The doctor agreed that my not having any meds was an emergency, and indeed made all the right noises along the lines “this should never have happened”. So I got my meds prescribed, although the process took two trips to the surgery instead of one, and five hours instead of five minutes.

I was still unhappy with how I’d originally been treated, so I decided to complain to NHS England. The consequences weren’t over, however. The two trips to the doctor’s had exhausted me…..and I had agreed to go grocery shopping later that afternoon. I go to the supermarket, but had to abandon it halfway through because I was exhausted. Lots of things I normally get, I missed. So this last week has been, literally, bread and cheese.

The thing, really, that makes me so angry about this is that this receptionist must have seen that I was disabled, but decided to be obstructive anyway. As a consequence, I had to do without a lot of food for the week, and might also have had to do without my meds. And all this from a place which should be pretty hot on dealing fairly with disabled people. I wouldn’t mind, but there are security questions in any case when somebody picks a prescription up, so refusing to print out a request slip for me makes no sense from a security point of view – I’d have had to answer the security questions in any case.

I mean, right now, I don’t particularly think there’ll be any wonderful resolution – the NHS usually looks after its own – but I’ll keep you posted.

Getting Rid (of an MP)

Something I’m thinking about a lot right now. For members of both the Commons and the Lords, I think that there should be a mechanism for subjecting somebody for re-election should they behave sufficiently poorly. I’m clear that, for MPs certainly (as they are elected) the people who should judge “sufficiently poorly” are the electorate themselves, but I’m less clear about how such a mechanism would work.

Because the MP’s constituents should be involved in the process, I suppose a petition would be the way to go. But there’s a technical issue in making sure that somebody who signs the petition is actually a constituent. It’s difficult to get this 100%, even if you cross-check signitaries against the electoral register. But I suppose the safeguard is that the consequences of the petition would only be a by-election, in which the incumbent would be allowed to stand, so I suppose we can get past that one.

The other thing would be, how many voters would need to sign such a petition? It’s tempting to say that the answer to that is so many percent of the number of people who voted for the MP. Except, of course, we don’t know who those people are. If we say that 75% of voters is enough to trigger a no confidence petition, then what happens in a very marginal constituency, where maybe the winner only got 50.1% of the vote? There’s 49.9% from the get-go who might be persuaded to have no confidence in the MP, regardless of the MPs actual performance. If the threshold is 75% of the votes cast for the MP (or even 95%), then that becomes achievable pretty much automatically. In fact, even if you go over 100%, the numbers would skew, say, a very safe seat.

I think if you’re going to have a mechanism for getting rid of people, you still have a petition, but you may as well pluck the numbers out of thin air. You have to fall back and say that the worst consequence is that the incumbent MP faces a by-election.

Unless anybody has any better ideas?