Choose and Book, part I

I expect this is going to take me a while to complete, and will probably come in several instalments. It’s too long a story to be able to tell it all in one go. Eventually, I hope it will form the majority of a letter I plan to send to Lord Darzi about the madness that is the NHS Choose and Book system.
Choose and Book is, in my experience, the most inaccurately named system in the known universe. It enables you neither to choose nor book an appointment. Here’s a brief history of my interaction with it.
I have suffered with gastric problems since sometime around 2001 – nothing life-threatening, just bad reflux apparently brought on by stress. “Big deal”, I hear you cry, “you’re not the only one”. Amen to that. At first I just more or less ignored it, then I started trying to minimise it by avoiding things that I could be fairly sure would exacerbate it. Pizza was the first thing to go, after I woke up at 3am in agony following a pizza dinner. Lager was the next thing on the list, followed by champagne and sparkling wine – I ended up only drinking white wine, thinking I’d be safe with that. It would be a long time before I discovered that I wasn’t, but that’s a much later part of the story. Sadly, I wasn’t able to give up the biggest stress factor – working.
At some point I started waking up feeling like I’d had five pints of lager the previous night when I’d had nothing at all to drink, which is when I decided to go and see my GP. He prescribed some Losec (omeprazole) and told me to try and relax a bit. He also gave me a test for Helicobacter, which came back negative. After a month’s course of Losec I was feeling much better, but a few months later the symptoms began to reappear so it was back to the GP for another course of Losec and another (negative) Helicobacter test. Inevitably this only kept things under control for a few months, so I went to the doctor once more. This time I saw a different GP, who decided to refer me for a gastroscopy, which is where my Choose and Book odyssey began…
More anon.

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