Two letters in the post this morning, both requiring me to make an appointment.
Letter #1 - the annual service on our gas boiler is due. To make an appointment, clicked onto the website, entered my unique reference number and chose a convenient day/time from the array on offer.
Total time required to make an appointment - 4 minutes
Letter #2 - referral letter from my GP with details of how to choose and book a hospital appointment using the new 'fast, efficient and streamlined' patient-centred booking system.
As directed, phoned the Patient Care Advisory Service which is available from 7am till 10am every day.
Received recorded message saying all the lines were busy and advising me to use the online booking service instead.
Logged into online Choose and Book service using the reference number and password provided in the letter. Was given the choice of three hospital options. Clicked on my preferred option and was offered the 'choice' of 1 appointment in mid-May, over 5 weeks away!
Logged out and tried to phone again, this time waiting in a queue to speak to a real person. Gave real person my reference number and password, full name and date of birth, plus my choice of hospital.
Was offered the same appointment date in May but was advised that I could ring every day in case of cancellations.
Grudgingly accepted appointment and waited while the real person confirmed the booking.
And waited some more.
Eventually 'computer said no' and the real person told me to either go online or try again later.
Went online again, and navigated my way back to the May appointment and clicked to accept.
Not daring to do anything as the screen message informed me that the booking was in progress and under no circumstances to close the screen or click back or do anything to interfere with the process.
So waited a while longer
Made a cup of tea and toasted a hot cross bun
Played with the birthday dog
Drank tea and ate hot cross bun.
Stood looking out of the kitchen window at the rain
Returned to laptop to find screen message effectively informing me that 'computer says no' and advising me to ring the Patient Care Advisory Service and speak to a real person.
Total time required NOT to make an appointment - 45 minutes.
I will give it another go later this afternoon but in the meantime, let's just hope that I don't have anything life threatening which would benefit from rapid diagnosis and treatment.