Time to Plant Wild Flowers

After 3 score years and a few, I had a revelation recently when I discovered that my almost manic need to arrive early for any appointment, what so ever, is completely incompatible with the health care system in this country.

Now you would expect that if your health care professional was still using paper and pen to book and maintain appointments then you could give a little leeway if your appointment was a few minutes late. With the electronics that we have to schedule appointments and keep times of treatments then booking treatments and maintaining a tight schedule should be fine art. Predictability is certain it just takes time and application. It is not like a shop, bank or other retail outlets where people ‘walk-in’. OK, so you know your busy times but not what the footfall is going to be. So in those circumstances, a queue at the till is acceptable. Waiting half an hour for a dentist to do a 10-minute check and descale is not.

I was recently pulled into the NHS system because of a small eye problem. It was not the problem that has eventually put me in the joyus merry-go-round that is the hospital system but in fact was a benign outside eye issue unable to be identified as such by two opticians and an opticians nurse. It needed a consultant to diagnose. Now I am thankful that it is not the imposition that your worst nightmares conjours up but it did mean that I was subjected to a plethora of tests to see if I had any other condition to keep me in the system. This would ensure that I will continue to use the carpark at a minimum cost of £2, or, if you are like me, and have a fear of parking tickets, £7 being the maximum. I always arrive early and always fear that my appointment will be the last on the consultants list for the day.

So my last two visits cost me £14 and an experience not to be forgotten. Both appointments were good but the first was the best. Arriving early I managed to cheat the booking in machine into not giving me a ticket after my fat fingers pressing the wrong touch screen option. After searching in vain for the ‘go-back’ option I headed to the end and actually looked up the ticket chute to see if my ticket had ‘got stuck’. There is no ‘try again’ option because when I did try again it told me that I did not have an appointment.

I was forced to interface with a human who printed a ticket for me. It appears that a ticket was not really necessary because my appointment invitation letter told exactly where to go and the next receptionist, who was training a collegue, took the ticket between finger and thumb and put it in the bin. She then asked me the same set of questions that the machine and the other receptionist had asked in order to establish my identity.

My eyes are important to me having been short sighted for most of my life but I really am not going to steal the appointment of someone who may have more problems than I have.

I am quite conversant with the need to protect your identity but am I really going to steal someone’s identity to sit for upwards of three hours in various consultants queues only to be told to come back in three months time for the same set tests and the wrong diagnosis. I am with the Spanish on this who have embraced identity cards. They use these to travel around Europe and get healthcare and don’t have the same apparently unfounded objections that we British seem to have.

Not only do I suffer with the ‘must be early’ syndrome I am also blessed with ‘every thing will go wrong’ gene. After waiting for some time and watching the world and his brother being called into their appointments I was eventually shown into the first room to have my peripheral vision checked. This involves holding a button and pressing it every time a dot appeared on the screen, which could have been in any of a number of positions. Unfortunately my attention span is very limited and the machine was playing up so that decreased my ability to concentrate such that it took the two ‘nurses’ and a technician some time to get a good set of readings.

At each stage of these tests, and there were a few, I was given an eye distance and nearness test. Is is likely to change in the half hour or so between tests? My next test was the colour blindness check. This was carried out by the lady prison doctor from Lubyanka and her unsmiling friend. No amount of peering and squinting allowed me to discern anything other than the first letter on the first page. This confirmed my colour blindness. I know I can see colours but whether they are the same as those you see is moot.

Lastly I was send to sit outside yet another door to wait for someone? I think the problem with the NHS is that you are rarely seem told what is going to happen next. This is unlike life. I am currently re-watching a number of boxsets, some on the third view, so nothing that happens in my life is a surprise. Eventually I was told that the consultants had not only their own clinics to work though, as well as their hospital scheduled appointments, but also they expected lunch. Looking at me as someone who was unlikely to moan, despite the seat sores on my butt, the queue manager asked if I was prepared to come back at another time because she was not sure when my consultant would be free. There had been a lot of moaning and muttering further up the queue and this reached a bit of a crescendo when the door opened and my name was called. I happily jumped the queue! I was subjected to more tests, some of which required the application of potions and creams. After 30 minutes I was told to come back in three months. Sigh.

The worst piece of NHS customer service came at a clinic which I will not name. Asking at one reception desk I was told to wait while the receptionst continued to type. I was able to review every notice, electronic or static, in the area including working out the order in which the screen displayed the various electronic notices and working out there was some kind of randomness applied. When she did stop what she was doing, which was obviously very important, it took her less that 10 seconds to confirm my appointment and where I should sit.

And now to the point of this blog. Arriving early to my dental appointment I was able to snaffle The Times rather than the East Anglain Daily Times which only has one use and that is when you have run out of fire lighters. I read a newspaper once every six months when I visit the dentist. Flicking through the pages I quickly found that there was only one article worth reading.

The Times is reporting that certain species of bee etc have been in decline for some time which puts our crops at risk. This latest research suggests that each square killometer lost on average 11 species of polinators in the 30 odd years to 2011. This is not a fact that has been lost on many of us but the decline is quite signficant.

The study looked at 353 species of bees and hoverflies, which are polinating, and found that one third of species are declining in the areas studied. It is not all bad news in that 10% of species are on the increase. The problem is that not only are the polinators decreasing but their range is reducing often to less that 25% of what they have been previously. This is put down to habitat loss and pesticides. Whilst there have been losses and gains reliance on a small number of crop poilinators is not seen as a long term answer.

To my mind this will have significant affect on our long term food production. I know that Brexit is seen as a short term issue to food stocks, until we can up our trade agreements, but in the long term we need to take this other crisis in hand and take steps to improve the spread and species of poilinators. We need to start planting wild flowers.

Having looked at a number of websites I am convinced that polinator plants can co-exist alongside the more favoured plants and trees. We are blessed with several areas within and on the periphery of the village that can support a wide variety of plants if we take the time to cultivate. The following is a list of suggestions,

  1. Choose plants that flower at different times of the year to provide nectar and pollen sources throughout the growing season
  2. Plant in clumps, rather than single plants, to better attract pollinators
  3. Provide a variety of flower colors and shapes to attract different pollinators.
  4. Whenever possible, choose native plants. 

Native plants will attract more native pollinators and can serve as larval host plants for some species of pollinators.

Now that we are coming out of the season of frosts (famous last words) it is time to buy and plant some poinators. Look for the following symbol,

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