"Pain Management Clinic is useless"

About: National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery, Queen Square

I have chronic pain and was referred here by my GP to the Pain Management Clinic. I waited months to see a doctor who, when I eventually did see him, seemed disinterested in my situation. They seem to suggest lidocaine infusion (IV lidocaine) as a first step no matter what is wrong and I got the distinct impression that if I refused, no further treatment option would be offered. I therefore went ahead with the treatment which was ineffective, as predicted (I was told it has only a 20% success rate). I was then seen twice more my the same doctor who suggested the drug options my GP had suggested (anti-depressants like amitriptyline, anti-epileptics like pregabalin & gabapentin) although these had previously been ineffective. He only new suggestion was duloxetine, which I was reluctant to try having read the potentially very serious side effects and poor success rate. I was then told there were no further options. After months of researching pain treatments on my own, I asked to see the doctor again as I was on an open referral. In August 2013, I was told that no appointments were available until December. I accepted the December appointment and called weekly checking for cancellations, but none were available. I was then sent a letter telling my that my appointment had been rearranged to a new date in December when I was not available. I called to explain that I could not attend on the new date and I was deferred into January 2014 (5 months waiting). I then received a letter advising me that I had failed to keep my appointment! Clearly, no one had rearranged the appointment despite assurances on the telephone. I wrote to them and received two different replies to my letter, one apologizing for the mix up and confirming that my appointment for January still stood and one from the same doctor advising me that he was leaving, that my appointment was cancelled and that someone who contact me to make a new appointment. On the same day as these two letters arrived, I was called and told that there was no longer a pain management doctor and that they could not offer me an appointment. I think it is fair to describe this response as chaotic. Add to this that 1) no one ever answers their telephone 2) messages left on the ansaphone are not replied to and 3) emails sent are not replied to and deleted without being read (if you ask for a read receipt in your email client) and it all adds up to a very, very poor service indeed. I waited months for the COPE programme, was offered a date I could not attend as I was recovering from surgery and then was told I was no longer eligible. I attended the Pain Management Physiotherapy sessions were seemed to be 50% attendees moaning about their situation and 50% simple stretches & basic physical activity in a mini-gym. In summary, I am deeply disappointed with this service and can safely say that it had done absolutely nothing to help me with chronic pain and has acted primarily as a source of stress.

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Response from National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery, Queen Square

As a Trust we take patient comments extremely seriously and would be grateful if you could make contact with us so that your concerns can be investigated. Please contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service on 020 3447 3042 or by email to pals@uclh.nhs.uk.

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