• Author:Ben Jones
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Flu jab was like being poked in the eye

It didn’t hurt – well, not much. The sharp scratch of my flu jab was bearable; I’ve had a lot worse, including the week of being being treated like a pin cushion when in hospital with pneumonia nearly three years ago. No, it wasn’t the pain of the injection the bothered me but the hopeless communication from the person administering it.

Since my brush with death (read pneumonia) my various GPs have advised getting the flu jab each year. I have dutifully obliged, including this year when prompted by a text message from my GP surgery to book my appointment. I trotted off yesterday afternoon to have it done and – being a diligent patient – reading the leaflet placed on the seat in the waiting room I was all ready for action. I was called in and shown a seat.

There was no “hello, my name is…..” which was a real shame. There wasn’t even a “hello” from the nurse who was the flu jabber in chief. Instead, I got silence. Followed by more silence. Followed by “why are you here?”. I decoded the question and briefly explained my medical history. Further silence. No empathy. No pretend interest. “It doesn’t say here you need the flu jab”. I tried again. This time I name dropped my GP – from that practice. More silence. Then submission. “Oh yes, I see it in your notes.” I was to be granted the jab. Lucky boy. Be thankful. Be grateful.

The whole experience was deeply unsatisfactory – from the lack of a welcome, no pleasantries, no explaining what will happen, no friendless. Nothing. Just a you’re wasting our time attitude and a feeling that I was a drain on the system. How thoroughly dispiriting. I have spent much of my working life working with or near the NHS and know that it has given members of my family (and me) so fantastic treatment and saved some lives close to me. Yesterday was one of those days when it stank. When it let me down. When it felt like a service from a different era and different world. When it left me cold.

I am back tomorrow for another appointment on a separate matter. I hope I am left to feel more of a partner in my care and less of a parasite or pain in the neck. I will report back.


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