Step 5 – Don’t be disheartened by NHS red tape

Ben has been waiting for treatment for his alcohol addiction for several months now. We have been through the mill, raising the alarm about his deteriorating condition as early as last October. Five months of chasing later, and it really was Ben’s GP’s intervention that opened the crucial door.

But my worry lately has been whether we are too late – whether Ben’s health has declined so dramatically that an urgent hospital admission will be necessary, scuppering our hopes of getting Ben into a long-term treatment programme.

Today, we made one minor (possibly major) breakthrough. Ben’s new key worker, Marc, confirmed that the appointment we had been waiting for with the community care assessor – the one which will determine whether or not Ben is a suitable candidate for residential rehab – is finally happening on Monday.

Apparently, Ben’s manager will be making this assessment. It is unclear to me why this couldn’t have been done earlier, since Marc had said that Ben needed to be assessed by someone external to our local NHS drug and alcohol service and now it transpires that someone within the service, namely a manager, is also qualified to do it. I am biting my tongue right now, saving my queries or complaints for later, since the main objective is currently within sight.

Even Ben seems to have been buoyed by this latest news and was upright when I got home with Rosie this evening. He’d managed to prepare the bathtub for her and roast some potatoes for dinner. He’d put a load of washing in the machine. And he’d taken out the rubbish. This new found, if limited, energy can only be attributed to a renewed sense of hope.

Ben’s GP has also been very good at ringing us back when we’ve left messages for him. He has been the lynch-pin in this whole process. Without his intervention, we would still be at sea.

Still, we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. Marc was very clear with me today that things would not happen ‘over night’. Once the assessment on Monday is complete, the team’s recommendations for Ben’s treatment – namely for detox and residential rehab – need to go before a funding panel. The panel meets every Wednesday, but there is no guarantee whether that paperwork will be completed in time for it to be submitted by the coming Wednesday, in which case, we are facing yet another week’s delay.

And if the panel rejects the application, we are back to square one.

I prefer to assume that the panel will pass the application. I can’t believe that all my complaining/lobbying/beseeching will come to nought. If it comes to it, I have further avenues to pursue – starting with Ben’s GP, again. As long as he remains on our side, Ben has a good chance of finally getting the treatment he desperately needs.