"Lessons need learning"

About: Royal Berkshire Hospital

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My experience of the Royal Berks Maxillofacial department wasn’t without some genuine concerns, which I feel my comments honestly reflect. In December 2012 my dentist picked up a shadow on a routine x-ray, this concerned my dentist enough to ask me to find out my NHS number from my GP and come back within the hour so an emergency referral could be arranged. It was explained to me as the shadow could not be identified and did not look like an infection I would be seen within 2 weeks. Two weeks came and went and no appointment arrived leaving me to do some chasing around myself. An appointment eventually came through, for February 2013 so 2 months after my referral from my dentist. So I saw the oral surgeon in February who diagnosed the problem as an abscess straight away. Although alarm bells should have rung when he suggested root cannel treatment, when I pointed out I’d already had that treatment he told me he didn’t know as he hadn’t seen an x-ray! Which struck me as strange as the referral was based on an x-ray. However after my consultation I was sent for an x-ray in the hospital, which I expected would be seen straight away and would confirm the diagnosis of an abscess. The treatment decided was an extraction, which would solve the problem. An appointment came through for March, so I took a day off work without pay and prepared myself for the treatment. However on arriving to the department I was asked to fill out a new patient form. When I pointed out I had already filled a form out before my consultation in February, the receptionist made a few enquiries and returned a short while later explaining they had made an error and had made me an appointment for a consultation not treatment and there was nothing they could do. A day wasted, and a days pay lost I returned home and had to await another appointment. I expect because of the hospitals error this would come quickly and treatment would be prompt! But no the appointment came through for nearly 2 months later! So April 30th same routine another day unpaid leave, only to receive a phone call that morning advising the surgeon was off sick so my appointment had to be rescheduled. Not happy but nobody can help sickness I had little choice but to wait for yet another appointment to come through. In the mean time I wrote to the hospital expressing my concerns it was now four months since my referral and I was worried further harm could be happening due to the delay. But despite including my address, my e-mail address, and my home, mobile and work numbers I had no response! I even sent the letter recorded delivery so I would know it was received. Finally an appointment came through for May 17th, 5 months after my referral! 3rd time lucky I’m thinking! But oh no! About 2 hours before my appointment was expected I have a call from an oral surgeon explaining they have just looked at my x-ray and they now think it’s a cyst not an abscess and this will need to be dealt with in theatre. So

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Response from Royal Berkshire Hospital

We are very sorry that you had a less than satisfactory experience. We understand that you have now had your treatment and that the consultant has spoken with you in detail and we hope that some of your concerns have been addressed. Unfortunately, the original referral from your dentist (received 16 January) did not specify that you needed to be seen within two weeks and contained no X-ray film. Your treatment plan was more complex than most and resulted in a change of plan from a procedure under general anaesthetic to one under local anaesthetic – this could have been averted with more detailed booking information for which we apologise. It is unfortunate but unavoidable that further delays then occurred as a result of a staff member being off sick. Due to earlier delays you should have been prioritised to be operated on a bit sooner, but unfortunately the date you had your procedure was one of the first available slots, allowing time for a pre-operative assessment appointment beforehand. We are sorry that this was not explained to you at the time. We are also sorry that you received no formal response to your letter dated 1 May but you were contacted and the necessary appointment was arranged. We are also sorry you found it difficult to contact us; we don’t generally have a problem in the department with phones being answered or calls being returned so please be assured that this is not the norm. If you would like to discuss any of these matters in more detail, please contact our Patient Relations team on 0118 322 8338 or email talktous@royalberkshire.nhs.uk

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