"Rude receptionist and delays at orthopaedic department, Raigmore "

About: Raigmore Hospital / Trauma & orthopaedics

(as a relative),

My dad had an operation to fuse his ankle together in January. All seemed to be going well with the healing process and the doctors where happy with the progress the bones had made.

However, my dad has been experiencing more and more pain in his ankle and managed to get an appointment later in January to see his consultant in the orthopaedic department.

At this appointment it was decided that a CT was required to see exactly what was going on with the bones as everything looked ok on the x-rays. An appointment eventually came through for the beginning of February and he was told to wait for the results.

By late March, I was growing concerned that he still had heard nothing and there was mention that there could be an infection in the bone and given the fact that this had been going on since January I decided to call my dad's consultant office myself as the secretary was not helpful to my dad. On this occasion I got out through to a different secretary, and once I explained my concerns. She assured me that she would see what she could do.

The next day, I called back and the same secretary said that she was going on holiday, but would ensure that she spoke with my dad's consultant before she left and let me know. Later that same day she called back to say that the consultant would like to see my dad later that week. She asked if my dad had any contact with the consultant's secretary and I said that he had tried calling her on numerous occasions and she was most unhelpful.

At the consultation, my dad's consultant apologised for the breakdown in communications and explained that there was a backlog of letters in for typing, but due to secretarial absences these were not getting done. He explained that the CT scan showed quite clearly that although part of the ankle had fused together nicely, another part had not and this was causing the pain. He explained that a second operation would be required to place either pins or a plate in his ankle to further heal this area. Dad was assured that he would be placed on the surgery and as soon as a slot was available he would be taken in. He was taken down for the pre op assessment that same day.

A week or so later, dad called his consultant's office and spoke with his secretary who said that his consultant was not available at that time. He enquired as to the likelihood of the operation, and asked for the secretary to pass on that he was willing to travel as far as Glasgow to get the operation. The secretary on this occasion also told him he would have to join a waiting list for 12 weeks before he would get a slot for an operation, which was certainly not what he had been told at his recent appointment.

A week later, my dad called me as he couldn't get through to the secretary. So I called and the phone was answered by a gum chewing woman! Firstly she told me that she would not help me as my dad was the patient, she then told me that his consultant was on holiday. I said that my dad had called last week and left a message regarding going to Glasgow for the operation. She said that patients don't get transferred to Glasgow any more. I asked why she had not explained this to my dad, and asked what his consultant had said about this. She replied that she had not bothered to pass the message on, as the consultant was busy that week. I asked why she had not passed the message on and she told me it was none of my business to question her working ways.

My dad is in a lot of pain and it is very distressing to watch him suffering. I found the attitude of this secretary to be absolutely appalling. My dad has been calling on and off for over 3 months to no avail and to this day is still no further forward as to what is happening with regards to an operation.

I find it very hard to understand how a secretary can make the call as to what to pass on and what not to pass on, it is her/his duty of care to pass on all messages no matter how trivial they may seem. It is always very important to the patient.

I personally am disgusted by the lack of communication between doctor and patient regarding this matter, my dad has hardly been sleeping since January due to worrying that there is an infection in his bone which could have led to his foot being amputated.

This Friday sees another 4 week period pass and still no word of an operation, which both my dad and myself are finding distressing!

I would appreciate hearing from you as at this point in time my dad has lost all faith in Raigmore hospital and is seriously considering what options are available to him. We have made a formal complaint but that obviously has to go through process and is not actually going to help my dad get his ankle sorted out!

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Response from Maimie Thompson, Head of Public Relations and Engagement, Chief Executive's Office, NHS Highland

picture of Maimie Thompson

Dear Robbo83

We don't seem to have got very much right here, and to add to your burden and your dads pain, our communication, attention to detail and attitude of some staff has been disappointing to say the least. I am very, very sorry that this has been your family's experience and we need to get this back on track.The formal complaint will be fully investigated but what I suggest is you contact me so we can agree what needs to happen now. Please phone on 01463 704722 or email maimie.thompson@nhs.net

I will go home tonight with a heavy heart that NHS Highland has let you down. Please lets see if we can turn this in something more positive that will benefit all patients. Thank you for sharing your opinion.

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