Hello again everyone. Are you enjoying the wind and rain and feeling as though Winter has come never mind Autumn? Oh for some warm sunny weather. I can’t believe we are shooting through September. Where is life disappearing to? I’ve never known time to go so quickly. We are going for our flu jabs a week on Saturday, and it doesn’t feel like a whole year has passed. If anyone finds a way of slowing life and time down please let me know. I don’t fancy all this rushing to being ‘elderly and vulnerable’ as us oldies are classed now. Today’s blog is nothing to do with the weather. It’s about incompetence.

Poaching Doctors from Countries in Need

So onto today’s blog. I just couldn’t stop myself from commenting about what I read today when I saw that more than one in seven doctors joining the Lancashire Health trust come from developing countries where recruitment is banned, such as Bangladesh, Georgia and Nigeria. Of the 127 new doctors who joined the trust in the 12 months to January, 19 gained their qualifications in countries from the restricted list. It’s supposed to be to stop staff from being poached from their home countries which don’t get a lot of medical aid and have a shortage of doctors.  It seems that the trust can recruit staff from these countries as long as they are not directly aimed at at recruitment drives. Is it me or isn’t that the same thing practically?

Myself, I don’t have a problem with seeing ‘foreign’ doctors as long as they know what they are talking about and can speak English properly. The thought of some of the doctors I was unfortunate enough to end up seeing after my cancer journey was awful. This was in Yorkshire not here might I add. Talk about incompetence, I was left feeling very unsure about these doctors as most couldn’t speak English properly (or sometimes at all).


I remember one particular African doctor who had to ask the nurse what I was saying. She did that English thing where she repeated what I’d said, slooowly and LOUDLY which appeared to do the trick. It didn’t fill me with any confidence at all.

Anyone who is or was unfortunate enough to have a serious illness will know how worked up you can get while waiting for the dreaded hospital visit to see if you are OK. I myself was a bag of nerves, hoping they wouldn’t find anything else wrong and that my cancer hadn’t returned. When I saw this particular doctor, he barely examined me and that was it. I wanted to ask questions and he hadn’t got a clue what I was talking about and used the nurse to translate for me. I couldn’t tell what on earth he was saying and left that room wondering why I had bothered going and feeling full of worry that he had missed things.

It didn’t get any better at other visits, with various people from all parts of the world. I don’t have any problem with what they look like or where they are from, I just wanted to feel reassured that they knew what they were doing and they were right when they said I was OK.

Not Much Point in Appointments

Again, the majority hardly examined me, didn’t want to speak or answer questions, to the point that I thought I knew more than them – and that’s saying something! All in all, it was a bad experience and when I had been going for 11 years post cancer, I asked yet another foreign doctor why couldn’t I be discharged which he reluctantly thought about and eventually agreed to.

I just didn’t see the point in going to come away knowing that something could be going horribly wrong in my body without me knowing. It wasn’t as if they did anything. I never even had another scan in all the years after my treatment. So I felt a lot better when I knew that me and my family, who had all suffered in our own way, wouldn’t have to get worked up and count the days when I went to see if I had a future life or not!

A bit more incompetence

Also, I read the case of the surgeon who had tried to cover his tracks in the treatment of a woman who had breast cancer without consulting her previous pre-op results of her scan. Again, another foreign doctor, he’s been suspended and left the hospital. Found to be dishonest, I suppose you could say he was a liar. He qualified in India in 1983 and has been working at the Vic as a breast and endocrine consultant for 12 years.

He didn’t check her scans before he made a wide incision in her breast which reduced the size of it somewhat. The man didn’t discuss follow up treatment, whether she needed a mastectomy and all the things a doctor should ask and do. He also didn’t keep proper records. It turned out at a tribunal that he was proven to be dishonest in covering his tracks but all in all, without writing reams, he wasn’t doing his job properly. And how many more.

And even more incompetence

I was misdiagnosed for nine months by my GP, after several visits full of concern by me. And he was English and could understand every word I was saying.

I knew something was wrong in my heart of hearts but I trusted him, to my folly, as that man could have killed me. To not know the basic signs of cancer defies logic, but that happened to me.

He actually asked me afterwards if I wished I’d never gone to see him and I said yes. It put me and my family through anguish, wondering if it had spread all over after such a delay. Especially as I was only 46 at the time, and hormone fed cancers are always worse in younger people.

Remember, in that time, there weren’t scans to be had and none of the procedures that are in place today to see whether a disease had gone on the rampage. So me and my family were mentally tortured for years, wondering if I was going to pay for his mistake.

A catalogue of appalling treatment

Luckily I’m still here, goodness knows how with the treatment I had at that time. It was unforgivable and looking back we should have complained about the whole horrible time. But we were going through enough so we left it. I wouldn’t mind, but after that it was as if the doctor couldn’t stand to look at me for his own guilt. Instead of making up for his mistake he made it even worse by trying to pretend that I didn’t exist. You’d have thought I’d had a common cold, judging by the treatment I got from all of the GPs at our surgery.

And while I’m complaining, I must just tell you about the female GP who I went to see just one week after coming out of hospital. I was understandably upset about the 9 month delay in my treatment, concerned that it might have an impact on my outcome. So she cheerily told me to hope that I didn’t get it in my other breast (the thought hadn’t crossed my mind at that point). And, to hope it didn’t spread to my bones, and if it went to my brain, well, I might as well get my coffin ordered! Jane and I just looked at each other, I’ll never forget that. I came out of there heartbroken and kept out of her way in the future!

… I haven’t finished

Oh, and then there was the Macmillan nurse, who, on the one visit I got from them, spent a full 30 minutes telling me about the next patient he was going to see. She was a young woman around my age who had terminal cancer and was on the point of dying. I got to hear all about her illness and her poor family who were going to miss her so much. So of course by the end of his visit I was convinced that this was also going to happen to me.

I could write a horror story about the whole sorry mess. And my friends wonder why I won’t got to the doctors now. Today, I would definitely have taken a lot of people to task as they shouldn’t have been practising, and that wasn’t just my doctor. Luckily I had a brilliant surgeon who carried out my mastectomy. I suppose that’s why I’m still here, lucky for me!

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One Comment
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    What a terrible time you and your family went through Chrissie. My sister who was 63 at the time visited her GP regarding bleeding although she was well past the menopause. The GP immediately sent her to the hospital for checks ( this was Lancaster). After many appointments, it took them nine months to diagnose cancer of the uterus, which was initially diagnosed by the GP employing a radiographer who visited surgeries in the area.

    Following a hysterectomy she then had to have invasive treatment at Preston Hospital and Christies and continuous checks where all appeared to be well. Four years later following her check in July she started to have problems walking and to cut a long story short, as she sat down at the dinner table, her thigh bone broke. It turned out she now had cancer of the bones a secondary cancer which Lancaster hospital insisted had nothing to do with the original cancer of the womb. She sadly passed away at the start of November of the same year she had been told all was clear.

    How I miss her.

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