"Appointments for my baby daughter being repeatedly..."

About: Colchester General Hospital

Our daughter has had her appointment with the dermatology consultant rescheduled twice. Initially, she had an appointment booked for 2nd October 2013. Prior to this, she had been waiting for 6 weeks. This was rescheduled at short notice to 16th October 2013. This appointment was subsequently re-scheduled at short notice without a specific alternative appointment being offered. My wife and I were instead given a vague assurance from the receptionists saying that (to paraphrase) they would try and fit her in the next few weeks/ by the end of October. To date, our daughter has been waiting over 2 months to be seen. Prior to the referral being made, we had taken her to our local GP on numerous occasions and were separately prescribed a range of creams/ lotions that have ultimately been ineffective at treating and halting the spread of her skin condition. Our daughter is a 4 month old baby. We had presumed that she would be prioritised to a degree. After all, she is too young to appreciate the nature of her condition and can do nothing to independently manage it. As parents, we have followed our GP’s advice to date and taken measures to prevent the worst excesses of her scratching. We are unfortunately still in a position where our baby has been left in discomfort by not being seen in a timely manner. On both notifications that my daughter's appointment had been rescheduled, I contacted the hospital on the number given, firstly on 30th September and latterly on the 14th October (this time I was transferred to ‘appointments’ at Essex County Hospital). When I called on the 30th September, I was informed that she would have to wait for the next consultant surgery (16th October) and that she would only be seen on the consultant’s surgery days (Wednesdays). I also asked whether this was likely to happen again and was told that this was extremely unlikely because the consultant dermatologist would have no other duties booked for this day. I took the opportunity to ask how many consultant dermatologists there were and was told that there was just one. This leaves me with the fear that it is in fact quite likely that future appointments will be rescheduled, despite assurances given due to the level of provision available. I conducted some rudimentary internet research using the British Association of Dermatologists website http://www.bad.org.uk (as stated, it is rudimentary, so I stand to be corrected). This research firstly suggests that the ratio of consultant dermatologists to the general population should be 1/100,000 (but ideally 1/85,000). It also suggests that it is best practice that consultant dermatologists do not work in isolation. Can you please confirm whether your trust is conforming to these standards? If not, please tell me why not. I suspect that your failure to see Sophie in a timely fashion is due to a lack of adequate provision in dermatology.

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Response from Colchester General Hospital

I apologise you’ve not had a good patient experience. We try really hard to improve our services based on the comments we receive from our patients, their relatives or carers. We would like the opportunity to discuss your experiences more fully and to apologise in person. If you are willing I would appreciate it if I could ask the matron to contact you. Could you email me, using the reference “Children's & Adolescent Services at RDEE4-Colchester General Hospital at 23/10/2013 10:24:23”, please? Many thanks Paul Searle, Head of Communications Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust info@colchesterhospital.nhs.uk

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