"Horrendous & unacceptable wait in the outpatients..."

About: Heatherwood Hospital

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I visited Heatherwood Hospital for the first time for an OPD appointment this week. Patients are supposed to be given a choice of hospital via the choose and book process - I was not as this was the only hospital out of 7 with any appointments available at all for my speciality. My appointment was at 09.20 so I assumed I would be the third person to be seen. I arrived in clinic at 09.10. There then followed a wait of one and a half hours for a whole group of us to be seen. We were moved to three separate seating areas within the department, which became smaller and more cramped as they progressed and eventually there were not enough seats for us all to sit down. One lady mentioned that she needed to go to the loo but did not dare as she had no idea when she would eventually be seen and she got no helpful answer when she asked. In my experience, when clinics are delayed at the very start, this is due to the Doctor failing to turn up on time -and sure enough I overheard one nurse say to another 'I hope he gets here soon'. The Registrar tried his best to get through the patients as we assumed the consultant was not there - we assumed this as no one thought it necessary to tell any of us what was going on. The nurses/HCA's seemed pleasant enough but rather passive and not very proactive - if the Doctor does not arrive or the clinic is horrendously late from the start - please take the initiative and tell your patients - if I had known I was going to have to wait an hour and a half I would have gone off to have a coffee. If the little old lady next to me had known she could have used the loo without worrying and felt more comfortable. I was going to leave a comment on one of the comment cards - but the holders were completely empty. Given the number of nurses, HCA's and A&C staff in the department, there was really no excuse for this and unfortunately it contributed to the feeling that the patient experience is really not particularly important here. It may also be an idea to impress upon the nurses that standing sets of notes up on the side in a waiting areas outside clinic rooms so that the name and address of the patient is clearly visible is a breach of privacy - these need to be lying down and not left unattended in waiting areas, which ours were. I waited months for this appointment, spent two hours in the department for an appointment which had been booked for the start of the clinic, saw the Dr for 10 minutes and now have to wait two more months for a procedure. If the Doctors do not turn up on time - please can this be escalated to the medical director to deal with and an ongoing audit of their arrival times be commenced? Please can the nurses keep their patients informed about the cause of the wait and the approx time? Please can the clinic staff ensure plenty of comments cards are displayed prominently together with a confidential posting box for them clearly displayed?

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Response from Heatherwood Hospital

Thank you very much for taking the time to provide us with your detailed feedback as this is most helpful, and we are sorry for the problems that you experienced whilst attending your clinic appointment. We will share this with the Lead Nurse for Outpatients so that she can address the issues you have highlighted.

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