"Waited 2.5 hours for my appointment"

About: Guy's Hospital

I am a chronic kidney patient, so I'm a frequent visitor of patient waiting rooms. Today's experience at the Dermatology clinic (Southwark wing) was embarrassingly atrocious. I got there just prior to 10:30 am for an 11:15 appointment and was seen at 1 pm. There were at least a dozen other patients experienced the same or near the same wait time seemingly due to having overloaded early appointments and letting those with later appointments wait and wait as the lag time drew longer and longer. My experience was in stark contrast to the nephrology appointment at Guy's that same morning at 9 am. I got there at 8:50, did the mandatory weight and bp checks immediately, seen by 9:10, and bloods taken by 9:30. I was out of there before 9:40. In that department, they advertise that they care about their patients, with a promise to see their patients within 30 minutes of their appointment OR they will clearly let them know the delay and manage expectations. In the years that I've been going there, the staff in the nephrology unit have been great. Back to the dermatology unit, I think the staff there are great and doing what the best job they can, but they need to realise how to manage expectations. When I arrive and see a sign saying that they're running 45 minutes late, that's good. It gives me the opportunity to decide, as a patient, whether I can afford to wait because I have other things to do on the day. However, I waited over 90 minutes (12:05 after arriving at 10:25 for an 11:15 appointment), before I approached the receptionist to politely ask, "how much longer, please?" She didn't take my name, but said with a smile that she'd check where I was in the queue. She came back and said my file is no longer in the pile of folders, so it must be with a consultant and I must be seen shortly. I thought, "amazing how she knew exactly who I was," but now I feel she may have been paying me lip service. 45 minutes later, with another patient we calmly complained that this was getting to be a long wait and we had other appointments to keep. My fellow patient was told that he was now 6 in the queue after waiting 90 minutes himself (I'd been waiting now for nearly 2 hours), and he politely said good-bye and left. I was told I'd be fourth, and a few people later, I was told I was next ... then two more people were seen before me. If you're going to make me wait, then at least be honest with me. I've got my PhD and in the prime of my career, though, and I often don't have that kind of time to waste waiting. If we show up 30 minutes late to a doctor's appointment, we might not be seen. I feel it's insulting and incredibly disrespectful for anyone in medicine to assume our patient's time is worth that much less that they can allow us to wait for so long without reproach. It borders on patient negligence. To be clear, I have no issue with the consultants and receptionist at the dermatology clinic. Instead, I very much take exception to how it was managed today.

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Response from Guy's Hospital

I am sorry to learn that your experience in the Dermatology clinic fell short of the standards we aim for on this occasion. Your feedback has been shared with the Service Manager of the Dermatology department, who has given the following response: 'Dear Mr Dunn. Whilst we are very pleased to hear of your praise for the clinical and reception staff on the unit, we are very sorry to hear of your negative experience in the dermatology clinic due to the extended wait for your appointment. We do sometimes experience long waits in clinic due to some appointments taking longer than others and agree completely that the best way to deal in those situations is to inform all patients of the expected wait. We are currently working on improving all aspects of our patient experience in dermatology clinics, with particular focus on waits in clinic for patients and your feedback is invaluable to that process. It is also very pleasing to hear of the positive experience that you have had at Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospital in the nephrology clinic, and we will aim to learn as much as we can from our colleagues to help us further improve.'

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