"Waiting times for initial appointments, ..."

About: The Royal London Hospital

(as the patient),

What could be improved

Waiting times for initial appointments, especially when urgent, need to be reduced.

Gaps in between appointments need to be reduced.

Medical staff need to ensure that they have patient's medical notes with them for consultations.

Consultants need to be proactive when searching for a diagnosis.

I was referred to Rheamatology as an outpatient in June 2008 with a painful swollen knee. My GP referred me as an urgent case as I'd been in considerable pain for several weeks.

When I originally telephoned to make the initial appointment I had to spend 45 minutes on the phone giving my details as the person on the line struggled to understand how to use their system.

The initial appointment I was given was in 7 weeks time. I pointed out that I was in a lot of pain but was told their was nothing they could do to bring my appointment forward.

After a very painful and distressing wait of 7 weeks on the day of the appointment I set off for the hospital keen to get started with treatment. 20 minutes before the appointment I received a voice message telling me the appointment was cancelled because they'd mixed up the days that the consultant would be in the hospital.

When I rang to rebook (it took 3 calls) I was told the next available slot was in 3 weeks time. When I pointed out that I was in pain and it was their error that had resulted in the cancelled appointment I was told I was lucky to only have to wait another 3 weeks.

I did eventually get to see the consultant, in 3 appointments on two occasions he's not had access to my notes and I end up having to re-explain my medical history and what the problem with my knee is. It's like groundhog day!

In the 7 months since I was initially referred I've had one MRI scan but am no closer to a diagnosis or treatment. Rather than booking me in for an appointment with the consultant soon after my scan I had to wait a month after the scan to get the results.

Anything else?

My experience with the NHS over the last year has convinced me that I need, no matter how expensive, to get private medical insurance.

Story from NHS Choices

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