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AIBU to think this is a bit 'off'?

(10 Posts)
TInselaffe Tue 16-Dec-14 16:18:33

Probably am being a bit U as I'm asking for help so should just take whatever I'm given although as a taxpayer I do contribute towards my MPs salary. Anyway.

I have an issue that I requested my MP's help with. I'm not sure if she can actually help so I sent a very polite email* with a brief description, asking whether it was within her remit or not. I have had friends who worked for MPs so know she wouldn't read it, it would be someone from the team. My email contained my full name, the area of the city I live in and my email address.

Got an auto response from another email address (different person entirely, as expected) saying it had arrived.

Two days later got another email from another different email address with an auto-response acknowledging receipt and saying if I was a resident and wished to take matters further they needed my name, address and phone number. Everything about this email was completely generic. There was even a bit for "If you are not a resident but are emailing about such-and-such an issue, blah blah blah unable to help etc." I thought that they had my name, my area and my email address so all fine.

This morning I received the same email again. This time the email header said final request and whilst the contents were the same I noticed that the words address and phone number had been hugely enlarged to about 20pt.

Obviously I responded, checked why exactly they needed more info than they already had (given that my query was whether or not she was interested in helping) and supplied the details, as apparently she is (have heard nothing further). I mentioned that the generic nature of the emails made it difficult for me to distinguish that they were actually making a request of me personally rather than acknowledging receipt.

AIBU to think this is a weird way of dealing with constituent enquiries and it would have taken far less time for the second person to hit reply and write 'Dear TInsel, can you please supply your full address and phone number for us to take this further? Kind regards, etc.'?

I still haven't really had an answer - apparently she is going to write to someone on my behalf but she hasn't got anywhere near enough detail to do that. And I didn't need her to write to someone, I contacted asking for help accessing a service (thinking she might have helped other constituents to do this).

I have dealt with MPs before in different areas of the country and always either been able to get hold of someone on the phone or had a personal email back. Not sure whether this bodes well or not.

*I did try and call but no one answered. Thought email was best.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Tue 16-Dec-14 17:16:57

I suspect you've got on the wrong end of an automated system, and a tired staff member somewhere has just seen you haven't supplied your address, and has put you in the batch to send reminders to.

Most MPs won't deal with you without an address and postcode, as they can get in a lot of bother if they accidentally start helping someone else's constituent. Also if they have to call or write to people on your behalf they need to say "Ms Tinsel of 12 Holly Bush Lane, Town" for clarity about your identity.

I do think you're a a bit U for minding that she's trying to actually help you though, rather than just replying to your email saying "yes I am interested in helping you." Seems a bit nitpicky to me when sounds like she's just trying to get on with it!

If you think she has got the wrong end of the stick, either drop her another email with your full address and contact number, and some more detail about what you'd like her to ACTUALLY do, or give her a call in parliament via their switchboard number 020 7219 3000 and ask for her office.

TInselaffe Tue 16-Dec-14 17:53:24

This is it, I am not sure that she is trying to get on with it - they have said she will write a complaint letter when I asked for advice on specifically how I could access a service.

I have written back and said I don't think a complaint letter will help and if you think it will then please can you give examples of where it has helped. Have stated I need xyz advice and if you can't supply it then I will either ask [other MP - different area but I need advice on how to navigate the system] or can you give me the details of someone who can.

TInselaffe Tue 16-Dec-14 17:53:52

PS - sorry, thanks for the switchboard number, I will try that tomorrow if I get no luck via email.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Tue 16-Dec-14 17:56:12

If you try another MP, they will just tell you to get in touch with your own.

They should have paid more attention to what you were actually asking first though, sounds like they're having a pre-Christmas rush and possibly missing the details.

Have you tried CAB?

InfinitySeven Tue 16-Dec-14 18:07:06

My MP does this, too. You get an automated reply asking for your name, address, DOB, regardless of what was in the first email.

Then a few weeks later you get a note on whether the MP can help, and any upcoming holidays that may delay progress.

It's a long and tiring process.

TInselaffe Tue 16-Dec-14 18:16:14

Thanks, no I haven't, I will give them a call. I have tried a local NHS advocacy service but they would only help me if I was making a complaint, they said they were unable to tell me how I accessed/dealt with the system.

In a nutshell I have severe back pain following a serious car collision abroad some months ago. Hospital treatment abroad was non-existent so saw GP the second I got back. Pain keeps getting worse and I have various other worrying symptoms (numbness, pins and needles etc.) and have suffered a series of what feels like mismanagement situations with my care, the final straw being given completely the wrong advice about what drugs to take, which ended up in an emergency hospital visit last week because I was in so much pain I was crying and physically sick. I finally have a scan for my back (which my occupational health GP says should have been done immediately!) but have been told that I am not allowed to speak to the consultant at the hospital and the GP will advise on my care based on my results.

Bluntly, I don't trust them any more after the last four months so am desperate to find out how I can access a consultant via the NHS or how I can make the system work for me/as it's meant to. I don't believe the GPs are able to apply the system correctly either - apparently there is a general order about back pain that most of it goes away after 6 weeks so they gave me painkillers and told me to go back to work... it was only after the pain got so severe that I could barely work that they said maybe there was an injury caused by the crash. I was just flabbergasted that they didn't take the crash seriously in the first instance (i.e. apply the car crash protocols of getting a scan then a diagnosis) and nothing I could say about the pain/situation changed their minds. It's been compounded by the hospital messing up my paperwork and blaming the GP - or the GP messing up my paperwork and blaming the hospital, I don't know which as they have both blamed each other.

I am so fed up and don't know where to turn. I thought my MP would be a safe bet sad I heartily wish I had ignored all the media advice about only go to A&E if you are about to die (or similar!) and had gone straight there when I got back to the UK rather than trusting in my GP knowing what to do.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Tue 16-Dec-14 18:27:28

"I thought my MP would be a safe bet sad " Hey come on, give her a chance, she might be able to help you out.

If you've only supplied the information she needs today (and probably not as much information as you've given us on the exact problem etc) then I think it's a bit early to feel let down! People don't realise just how much email traffic MPs get (hundreds and hundreds a day).

I would suggest either:

a) you email again, telling her more about your problem, and outlining the specific things with which she might be able to help you (e.g. writing to the GP/health trust about allowing you access to a consultant)

b) you ask her office when her next MP "surgery" (unfortunate term in this context!) is, and get an appointment if you think it'll be more easily talked over face to face.

There are some charities that might have better specialist knowledge who could maybe help e.g. this one

TInselaffe Tue 16-Dec-14 18:40:06

I first emailed her on the 10th and gave all the information I gave above - I have left out both times (above and in the email) a number of other incidents as it then becomes a Daily Mail catalogue of failures that even the most interested person will fall asleep through grin

There isn't a surgery listed on her website (the space is just blank) but I have asked to speak to her in person in my last email as I'm not even sure they have told her about the emails. So I have done a) and tbh feel that I did that in my first email where I did ask for specific answers to specific questions (like access to a consultant).

I will check that charity out, thank you. I have just had a look at the CAB website and it has been very helpful - for example I asked my GP whether I could be referred to a different hospital as my local one is notorious (and has turned out to be awful) and she said no. Turns out that is incorrect, so thank you very much for the referral. It is very difficult to insist when someone says no if you don't have evidence to back up.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Tue 16-Dec-14 18:55:33

Glad I've helped a bit. Must be horrible feeling like you're not getting anywhere. Let me know how you get on (and the CAB DO do drop in sessions so you might be luckier with that).

Do try her parliament office as well.

I'm sure they probably haven't told the MP that you've been in touch. Sadly with one MP for perhaps 80,000 people, there's not much point telling her until they've had time to do some research into how to help you first, then she'll write a letter or sign one off, or make a call or whatever. If she's half decent anyway.

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