"Booking service cancellation letter devoid of helpful information"

About: Good Hope Hospital / General surgery

(as the patient),

My GP referred me via Choose and Book for a consult about an operation to treat a painful issue I suffer with. Having used the estimated wait times on Choose and Book I selected a specific consultant's clinic at Good Hope Hospital for an appointment, sometime into the future. However just 9 days later my appointment was cancelled. The letter read:

"I write to inform you that your appointment with the consultant or a member of his/her team at Good Hope Hospital has had to be cancelled. Please accept our apologies for any concern or inconvenience this cancellation may cause. Yours sincerely, Outpatients Book Co-Ordinator".

Here are the issues I can see with this approach:

1. ) No context. Was it because I was not considered urgent? Because the clinic was full? Is a doctor going on holiday? Is this just some sort of scheme to keep waiting list numbers down?

2. ) No recourse - There is no phone number to find out more information, and unless some prescient parent named their child "Outpatients Booking Co-Ordinator" I don't have the name of a real person who knows my situation to talk to.

3. ) Inappropriate letterhead - The rest of the paper this cancellation notice is printed on actually reads as if you *do* have an appointment. For instance it says "please let us know if you cannot keep your appointment", on a letter telling me I don't have one! The reverse of the letter helpfully tells me what to do when I get to the clinic (which I'm now not coming to) as well as how to park at the hospital (which I won't be parking at), and that I should respect the Trust's 'No Smoking' policy (in capitals) like I'm some errant youth being caught for truancy.

4. ) Confusing next steps. On the reverse is a small form which says "Please complete if this appointment is not convenient for you and return this letter by post", with options like "Please send alternative appointment". Now, it is totally unclear to me due to the lack of instruction whether a new appointment is forthcoming anyway if I do nothing, or if I'm meant to deduce that these inappropriate instructions on the back are actually something I should follow even though they don't tie in with what's on the front of the letter. Perhaps if I don't send it back then I won't get another appointment?

5. ) What happened to Choose and Book? I booked this using C&B, my initial appointment letter said if I wanted to choose another time I could use C&B, but this cancellation letter doesn't acknowledge that it exists.

Fortunately for me I am currently in quite good health, but I despair to think of how painful and upsetting this amateur-hour piece of communication would be received by someone who is in pain, ill health, or cognitively impaired.

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Responses

Response from Richard Parker, Managing Director, Good Hope Hospital, Heart Of England NHS Foundation Trust We are preparing to make a change

picture of Richard Parker

Dear Curtains

I absolutely agree - this letter sounds really confusing & I'm sorry a) for your appointment being cancelled & b) the further confusion caused as a consequence of what you describe.

I've forwarded your comments to our admin team to review the relevant letter templates & if you're able to contact my office (0121 424 9001) I can make sure one of the team arranges the rescheduling of your appointment.

Apologies once again

Richard

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Response from Good Hope Hospital

Dear Sir or Madam, Thank you for taking the time to post your comments with regards to the Choose and Book Service. I am extremely sorry that having initially booked an appointment, that you were then advised that it had been cancelled, without any explanation being provided. All patient feedback is used by the Patient Experience Team to identify themes and trends across the organisation to highlight areas of improvement, your comments have therefore been forwarded to the Patient Experience Team. Kind regards Patient Services Team

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