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Jane Bates: Wait for it…

Jane Bates expects no preferential treatment.

Jane Bates expects no preferential treatment

‘Are they giving you preferential treatment? Do you get pushed to the top of the queue?’

I am waiting for a non-urgent operation on my knee, and it will not surprise you that those who pose such questions are not NHS employees. I have to explain it is not how the system works, especially as I am soldiering on and not off sick. It is all about clinical need, I tell them, rather piously.

But I can see where they are coming from, and that I would be able to perform my job more efficiently were I not hobbling around. In the spirit of fairness – it was nursing that caused the injury in the first place through the lifting and twisting and all those years on my feet – my employers should feel an obligation to sort me out. The NHS proclaims staff health is an organisational priority, so it is understandable the public assume we get things fixed – and quick.

So should front line staff be able to jump the queue? I would feel uncomfortable doing this – it would mean me taking the place of some other deserving soul who might be in more pain than I am. I also have an illogical hope that the joint might get better spontaneously while I am languishing on the waiting list. It’s unlikely, but you never know.

There have been times when we have all called on the ‘who-you-know’ advantage. In my specialty, ophthalmology, I certainly have. When a family member was caught in the crossfire in a pub brawl, I took him straight to the eye specialist, bypassing the GP and A&E.

The same applied when I had the signs of a detached retina. In emergency situations it works, because the clinician in that instance is going over and above their usual case load. But jump the queue? I don’t think so. It just wouldn’t feel right to me.


About the author

Jane Bates

Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire

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