"Not Allowed to Rearrange Outpatient Appointment "

About: Crosshouse Hospital / General Surgery

(as the patient),

Following being referred to general surgery on 13th May via a consultant at the hospital, I eventually received an appointment letter through the post last Friday (11th July). Unfortunately I was unable to attend on the date provided (20th August) and on Tuesday 15th July I called to rearrange the appointment. The person I spoke to was very nice however informed me that because seven days had passed since the letter was written (it was dated 7th July) that she was unable to offer me another date and if I couldn’t make the appointment she would have to cancel it and the system would automatically place me at the bottom of the waiting list. I highlighted that I had only received the letter on Friday and was informed ‘this can be an issue when appointment letter are sent 2nd class’. I have been placed on a cancellation list however it is unknown how long it will take for me to be seen.

I am quite shocked that the NHS thinks this is acceptable practice and hope someone could look into this. There has to be an understanding that sometimes people are unable to attend appointments at the time given and threatening them with ‘being placed at the bottom of the waiting list’ is not a nice way to treat someone who called five weeks prior to the appointment to try and rearrange. Care should be person centred not system driven.

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Responses

Response from Eunice Goodwin, Patient Feedback Manager for NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Quality Improvement and Governance Team, NHS Ayrshire and Arran

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Dear unhappybunny1,

I am sorry I have not responded to your post so far. I agree with you, it does seems harsh and not patient centred.

You requested that someone should look into it, so that is exactly what I am doing, hence my unusual silence. If you can be patient with me, this response may take a little while (partly because I will not be at my desk from Thursday for a week) but I will definitely come back to you. As an optimist, I hope I will have something positive to say on this matter for you and others that may be affected by the same issues. Thank you for letting us know about it.

Kind regards,

Eunice

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Update posted by unhappybunny1 (the patient)

Hi Eunice

You mentioned above that you would 'definitely come back to' me – I understand that you are probably busy however I am disappointed that no one has provided me with a further update given that it has been three weeks since I posted my story. Is this still being looked into?

Thanks

Response from Eunice Goodwin, Patient Feedback Manager for NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Quality Improvement and Governance Team, NHS Ayrshire and Arran

picture of Eunice Goodwin

Dear Unhappybunny1,

I am sorry, I probably should have let you know and I am happy to be kept on my toes.

A 'short life working group' was set up to engage with the relevant managers and to look at this issue. We are expecting feed back from them by the 22nd Aug 14. Which gave the group under a month to do this. I was very happy to be given that commitment. I did promise I would come back to you, I just hoped I would be coming back to you with the outcome of the group.

I totally agree it is a very tight time scale to rearrrange appointments and I really hope that we will have something positive to share.

I should have the 'official' response by the end of August so please bear with me it won't be too much longer.

Best wishes,

Eunice

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Update posted by unhappybunny1 (the patient)

Many thanks for this update. I look forward to hearing from you in a few weeks.

Response from Eunice Goodwin, Patient Feedback Manager for NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Quality Improvement and Governance Team, NHS Ayrshire and Arran

picture of Eunice Goodwin

Dear unhappybunny1,

You are most welcome. The wheels sometimes grind slowly in the NHS but if we do get a commitment to change anything, a month will be a good result on many levels.

Take care

Eunice.

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Response from Eunice Goodwin, Patient Feedback Manager for NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Quality Improvement and Governance Team, NHS Ayrshire and Arran We have made a change

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Dear unhappybunny1,

The short-life working group have looked into your situation and reported back and asked me to respond on their behalf.

Firstly and very importantly, your post highlighted that the wording of the appointment letters sent by us was unclear. The letters do not give clear instructions about the process to change appointments. Good news, the letter will be changed to make it clearer for people to know what is required. Also, the posting date of our letters will be altered so that they do not arrive on a Friday, this will help with the tight timescale.

Secondly if the timescale of 7 days from the date on the letter was increased, this would impact significantly and adversely on our waiting times which are set out by the government (this has been tried already). We currently manage to successfully deliver the service in accordance with the waiting times for some services but not all of them and adjustments are being made in an endeavour to address these issues. We appreciate that this may not go as far as any of us would like.

However on a positive note, the managers have agreed that if someone misses the 7 day deadline to alter their appointment by a little (one or two days) it will be possible to be referred to a supervisor. The supervisor may offer another appointment dependent on an individual’s circumstances. In line with all services, we will re-form the short-life working group and review this again in 3 months time to assess the impact of this policy change and if there is more room to move on this, it may be extend a little further.

On another note, if I may take this chance to say that it would be good if everyone who knows that a GP is going to refer to the hospital, if folks are aware of a planned holiday, it would help if they informed the GP so that the referral management service does not schedule an appointment for this time.

I do hope this goes some way to helping you understand the issues and perhaps prevent the problem arising again. If there is anything further I can help with, please contact me. If there is an additional change made as a result of the 3 month review, I will post it here and I do hope this makes you less of an unhappy bunny as your post has led to a change to Ayrshire and Arran's policy.

Kindest regards,

Eunice

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