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Written by a NHS patient
16th December 2023

Having recently lost my carer I struggled to get to this appointment as it is six miles away from my home address. I do not drive and rely on friends and family to go with me to appointments. As nobody was free to attend I had to attend alone. I was surprised that the consultant was cross I was late "as I didn't live far away." It did not appear that staff knew I rarely leave my home, let alone travel six miles alone. I am autistic and the consultant was definitely not aware. I'd ask that doctors try to remember that six miles is a long way when you are both physically and mentally impaired, and I think I can assume my doctor no longer uses public transport and may have forgotten how unreliable it can be, especially on a Friday at rush hour just before Christmas. I was reassured by the lovely receptionist that I would still be seen even if late, as the doctor was running twenty minutes late with patients..I cannot fault the receptionist or the nursing staff who were all very professional. I was experiencing a panic attack, but don't believe this was recognized - instead I was a difficult patient who needed a chaperone. I'm very grateful to the nurses who persuaded me to stay, and I'm grateful to the consultant who continued with my appointment despite my distress. I'm not difficult or rude, I'm autistic. I was extremely stressed and had already explained my lateness to the receptionist and was therefore very confused to be chastised by the consultant. I'd apologized so many times, that I did not realize that I had to continue apologizing throughout the appointment. I assumed that the receptionist had told the consultant that I was, genuinely, stuck in rush hour traffic. I underestimated the time it would take, because I always do, which is why I am usually chaperoned. I'm saddened that my current symptoms weren't enough for this to be understood and forgiven. I asked the receptionist if I should rebook (when I was en route on the phone) and she rang me back and told me to come in regardless. I followed her advice but was still met with a very inconvenienced consultant. Prior to today, I have not attended an appointment alone in years. I was so relieved to have gotten there that I believe the consultant mistook my smiling face for rudeness when I was over half an hour late.