A therapeutic rant.

Gran’s medicines were running out recently, and we phoned the clinic where her repeat prescriptions have been written out for the past six years. Turns out we can’t just toddle along and collect the receipt anymore; we had to make an appointment. For three weeks in advance. This was the end of December. On the first of January, new rules for NFZ (NHS) prescriptions came into force, putting the responsibility for checking a patient’s insurance and the degree of refund to which he is entitled for each medicine, on the doctor.

A couple of weeks ago  Gran got some kind of cough bug, and, since she is ancient, frail and asthmatic, I got a doctor in to see her. “Handy, in a way” Ithought to myself, “she can write us out the standing order prescriptions”. Nice lady said she couldnt’ write us NFZ-refunded prescriptions for two of Gran’s problems, because they belong to specializations in medicine which her specialization doesn’t cover de iure (though it does de facto), and we didn’t have the documentation of the original specialists’ diagnoses and treatment. She wrote us out prescriptions for one packet of everything, just so we could in case of necessity get things at full price to tide us over. This took a long time, because the ministry of health’s server was overloaded (with doctors looking up the refunded medicines list).

On Wednesday we hopped into a taxi and went to the other end of Warsaw (where, for a long reason, Gran’s GP is)  for the doctor’s appointment. Turns out 6 pm is not so much our appointment, as the time when Dr Iksińska finishes work and starts writing out repeat prescriptions. We arrived twenty five minutes early, and were fifth in the queue. It took the poor woman twenty minutes to look up all Gran’s medicines and the degree of refund to which she was entitled. And that without the asthma medicines, because it turns out all the documents for that are with the asthma specialist, and having neither copies of the documents nor the appropriate specialization, she couldn’t write us a refundable prescription for them. Nor, really, ought she have for one other thing, but Gran piped up “Oh, I have that at home” (berenike mentally slaps forehead – why didn’t she remember this when the other doctor came to see her?) – so we get that prescription on the solemn promise that I will deliver a copy of the document as soon as humanly possible, in case ministry inspectors swoop in to check files. I arrange with the receptionist for a copy of all Gran’s documentation in that clinic (which, it turns out, isnt’ much, and I am going to have to do the rounds to collect copies of it all from all over the place),  to be picked up on Tuesday. Other end of town, remember.

We get home, I leave Gran taking off her boots and saying she’ll peel potatoes, and leg it to the chemist’s (it’s getting late). I hand over the receipt, the girl takes it and goes round the back. And then comes back, and says, “I know this is mad, but – you see the doctor has written the patient’s details in black ink, and the actual prescription in blue ink? And has only stamped the bottom half? We can’t accept it, without a stamp on both parts, because of the change of ink. Even though it’s obviously the same handwriting.”

I made some noises of despair, and then I’m afraid I just turned and walked out without saying anything else.  The next morning I phoned the clinic to see if the doctor is in that day. It takes a while to get through, I have to try three numbers repeatedly. “Yes, she’ll be here till 1.” At half past twelve, a long metro trip and some slushy trudging later, I walk into the clinic clutching the hospital document I’d promised to bring, and the prescriptions. “No, Dr Iksińska left a while ago.” “But, but, but…” “No, she works till noon today.”  Bear in mind that already that morning Gran had not had any tablets for one of her more pressing conditions.

Receptionist is surprised at tale of chemist woe, and suggests I try the one next door. I do. They don’t blink. This is on the one hand welcome, obviously, on the other – seems Aged Parent was right when she’d told me the day before that I should have asked to see evidence of the regulation preventing them from accepting the two-tone prescription. The next bit of joy – there’s one pill they don’t have in stock, I’ll have to come back tomorrow. Namely, today. The third day in a row, a trip across the whole of Warsaw (and I don’t have a travel pass).  I just hope that receptionist has the photocopies ready, or it’ll be another trip on Tuesday.


Related: for any  Poles  who happen to read this  blog: