Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Going to hospital...

...for my first oncology appointment. Today I went to Edinburgh's Western General Hospital for my first oncology appointment in Scotland. Having questioned and examined me, the doctor was very pleased with how I am going, again expressing amazement when shown the before and after scans.

Although I have been having regular CT scans in Australia over the last twenty months or so, the oncologist said that in the UK, it is usual for such scans to only continue for the first year after (apparently) successful treatment. I will therefore not automatically get more CT scans, but will continue to visit the cancer centre every three months. If either I or my specialist have any reason to be concerned, then I will have another scan or endoscopy. At any stage between appointments, I can also call up if I am concerned and should be able to get a place at the next weekly clinic. The highest risk of relapse is during the first year after treatment with progressively less chance after that (never reaching zero, of course). So while they do not plan to automatically give me more scans, there is a "very low threshold" of evidence at which they will arrange for one.

I was also introduced to some of the support and nursing staff and in particular was directed to the Maggie centre, an information and support centre for cancer patients and their friends and family.
Photo from Blackford Hill, five minutes walk from our apartment. The hospital is on the horizon behind me, obscured by my head. This photo was obviously taken many weeks ago, when it was still possible to walk around outside in light clothes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Oncology Appointment

Last night as Jessica and I were coming home we were discussing how I still hadn't received the letter I was promised when I visited the GP a few weeks ago. The letter was provide the details of an appointment with an oncologist. We had just decided that I would call the GP first thing in the morning when we arrived at the front door and found the letter! So no phone call for me. Instead, I'll be going to the Western General Hospital next Wednesday. Of course, from there I still don't know how long it might take to get a CT scan appointment.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Here's one reason I'm glad I'm covered by the NHS

One Australian dollar equals:

Getting acquainted with the NHS

I've now been in the UK for just short of two months and finally managed to see a GP today to get a referral to see an oncologist to be sent off to have my next scan (don't hold your breath). I am exaggerating a little about the delay, however, since registering with my local doctor required the completion of my university matriculation (enrolment). Although people are quite willing to complain about the NHS, I haven't yet seen anything to make me think public health ought not to be publicly funded.

One difference between GP care in Australia and the UK is that here you have to register with a single practice in your area and can only receive NHS funding to see a GP at that practice (until you change your registration). This means that patients can't shop around for the right diagnosis (or gather multiple prescriptions). It also means that all your medical records are collated in one place.