Natasha arranged for a vision check-up for Becky a few days ago. We haven’t been to that NHS office before, and Natasha turned out to be overly optimistic about the ease of finding a parking spot near the office. By the time she had parked some distance away and walked with Becky into the reception, it was 7 minutes after the appointment time.
“We cannot take you now”, they were told, “since you are late, starting the appointment right now will push the subsequent appointments back, and we cannot have that.”
Natasha tried to reason with them, but to no avail. She and Becky turned around and left, and I suppose that she will look for another provider when she re-schedules.
Can a medical office ever be so efficient as to spend exactly the allotted time on each appointment? Can a patient who is a few minutes late really screw up the entire remaining schedule? For that matter, can anyone remember ever being ushered into the doctor’s office exactly on time of the appointment? I, for one, knew a couple of doctors who came close, but I’m pretty sure that 5-10 minutes later than scheduled is customary.
I think the key here is that an NHS office will likely bill the government and get paid for this visit regardless of whether the services have been provided. A private doctor, conversely, would not want to lose a source of income over a few minutes of inadvertent tardiness.
Beware of being late for NHS appointments!