So, I had my first appointment at Whipps Cross Hospital last week, to see the midwife and to have some blood tests, as per usual procedure.
I'll be honest, whilst I'm incredibly glad the NHS exists, honestly, I've very rarely had a good experience with it. Perhaps it's symptomatic of living in the London area; perhaps resources are stretched by a greater demand. Whatever, from my GP surgery (a two-month waiting list for a blood test) to my husband being clusterfucked after receiving a cricket ball to his face and the NHS not thinking it was important to do scans (eventually it was discovered he had a fractured skull and bleeding into his cavities), my NHS experiences have been less than good.
Anyway, off to Whipps Cross I went, and after some effort in actually locating the right unit (my fault, not theirs), I joined a queue seven pregnant women deep. Finally getting to the front of the queue, I was told they were running on time... and then proceeded to be kept waiting for 30 minutes past my appointment time.
I will say for the NHS - the staff themselves generally (though not without exceptions) are fantastic. It's just the system. No-one knew I was waiting, apparently. And then someone else was in the queue before me. And when I finally went in, the midwife took a personal phone call from her bank! (And then apologised with the words, "Sorry, but I love my money.")
At this point another tiny nurse walked in. She was about four feet six. She said to me, "I hope she's not using my PC. Last time someone used my PC and there was lots of porno on it. Porno!" Crikey, it's a good job I wasn't an innocent. Though, I guess, if I was, then perhaps I wouldn't have been in an antenatal unit.
I then found out the bottle they'd given me, which I'd assumed was for blood, was actually for urine. And then I had to queue another hour for a blood test, where there was literally no queuing system - you just had to work out who you'd arrived before, and who had turned up after you. It was rubbish. Two easy suggestions to save 60 minutes of every patient's time:
1. A simple ticket pull like they have at a deli to tell you who's up next.
2. Train the midwife to take blood. It can't be that difficult, and would also save a headcount, as you could sack the phlebotomist.
The place was also full of bleached blonde Essex girls, all called Tiffany and Brittany, which didn't add to the relaxing experience as their dulcet tones could be heard shrieking down their iPhone 4S, "Nanny! Are you sittin' dahn? It's a boy! I told ya, din I? It's a boy, Bobby after Grandad!"
I'm such a snob. I'd consider going private, but at £10k for the birth, I think I'll probably just have to put up, shut up or speak up.