"Waste of a 150 mile journey."

About: Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary / General Medicine

(as the patient),

I recently had an appointment in the Out Patient Dept. about results of a recent Vascular Scan I had previously. (It seems I have blockages in my legs) The doctor first asked if I smoked (which have always been in my records that I do) as soon as I said yes I got the impression he was a very anti smoking and just said it would be a waste of time doing anything if I smoked as it would just come back! ! The whole appointment lasted at least 3 minutes which makes it worse the fact we traveled 150 mile round trip from Stranraer for the privilege of being treated by a Dr who wasn't going to do anything anyway. My point is, why did he not just write or phone to tell me, or let my own Dr know so I just need to go local?

Another gripe is I saw another Dr on 5th June'14 which resulted in being told I need an MRI scan, at the recent appointment I asked how it was going and the kind nurse phoned his secretary only to be told he is on holiday and will see to it on Monday! ! ! (11th August? ) What a holiday. The point is I have waited for 8/9 weeks for nothing, and if I hadn't asked last week I probably would never have known it hadn't even been organised.

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Response from Hilary Butterworth, IPIQ Officer, Patient Services, NHS Dumfries and Galloway

Dear Burnbrae

Thank you for taking the time to write your concerns regarding travelling to Dumfries hospital from Stranraer. I am sorry to hear you are disatisfied with your treatment and I can fully understand your frustrations and problems of travelling such a long way.

In order to answer your concerns more effectively I am going to contact Patient Focussed Booking and Outpatients Department to get a better understanding of the process and reasons why there is a necessity for some patients have to travel to Dumfries.

I will get back to you with further information as soon as possible

Kind regards


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Update posted by burnbrae (the patient)

Thank you, it seems that an address is not advised to whoever books appointments but it might help if it was. Some people in Stranraer gets apps at 8am!.

Response from Hilary Butterworth, IPIQ Officer, Patient Services, NHS Dumfries and Galloway

Dear burnbrae

Every patient is unique and decisions on their treatments are made with this in mind to ensure safe appropriate care for each person. When you attended the Outpatient Department you would have seen by one of the Consultant Vascular surgeons. Often patients attending vascular clinics have other medical problems, which may result in their general condition creating a complex situation. The doctor must make a professional decision founded not only on their previous experience in the field of vascular surgery but also on clinical guidelines based on years of international research. The Vascular surgeon you saw would have taken in to account your general physical health, age and the site and extent of the blockages shown on the scans, as well as any other medical condition you may have. In addition, the Surgeon would consider any other factors which may contribute to or exacerbate the condition. It appears the Surgeon believed smoking was detrimental to your own personal condition and advised that if you continued to smoke the surgery would not have been of any value. Another consideration would have been the risk of you having an anaesthetic. It is well documented that anaesthetics carry a risk of serious harm and occasionally can result in death. This risk also increases in certain circumstances, for example, as we get older or for patients who smoke.

It is routine for a surgeon in outpatient clinics to check if a patient is still smoking as personal situations change from week to week. Some patients may seek help through smoking cessation if there is an option of future surgery to alleviate a problem. After discussing your concerns with practitioners the general opinion is that it would have been very difficult for the Vascular Surgeon to undertake an adequate assessment of your general condition or prepare a clinical management plan by just having a discussion over the phone. The Surgeon will have based his decision and offered advice on what he believed to be in your best interests. I am sorry you were unable to build a rapport with the Vascular Surgeon and that you did not feel your visit was a positive experience

Another issue you raised related to your long trip to and from Dumfries. The higher density of population in Dumfries results in more clinics being held in Dumfries. In order to prevent a possible delay in patients being seen by a Specialist, the Patient Focussed Booking staff will offer patients from Stranraer earlier appointments in Dumfries. If this poses a problem please phone the appointment team on the number given for an opportunity to change the appointment.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway take all concerns seriously. Last month the Chief Executive and the Scottish Health Council met with a group of people who live in Stranraer to explore a similar issue. Currently, plans are being put in to place for a group of people from Stranraer to work collaboratively with NHS Dumfries and Galloway as part of a public engagement group to explore these issues. NHS Dumfries and Galloway has stated, “whilst travel within and outside of the region for specialist services will remain necessary on occasion, we are confident that we can make substantial improvements to the accessibility of services for patients in the west”.

I hope that I have been able to shed some light on the situation and that I have been able to answer your concerns. Should you require any more information or assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.

I wish you well in the future,

Kind regards,


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Update posted by burnbrae (the patient)

Thank You Hilary for your response.

While I agree with the majority of your reply, I still don't agree with traveling so far to be told in the first few minutes that I would not be a good candidate for surgery.

I am aware that I will not be seeing Mr Sathianathan in the future but seems another Surgeon will see me at some point.

One good point is that since he advised me to stop smoking or nothing will be done I went to my local Pharmacy and am on a 12 week course of a stop smoking clinic. I am on my 5th week now and have not had 1 cigarette in nearly 5 weeks!! My CO reading has been 2 every week, so maybe some good will come out of it.

I realise my first complaint might have sounded a bit over the top but people in Stranraer get frustrated by the treatment we receive from Dumfries, an instance is that recently I was phoned at 10:20am and was told an MRI scan was available, woopy was my first reaction but then was told it was at 11:45am the same day!! Please dont take that comment as a complaint but just an instance of the kind of thing we mean.

Than you for taking the time for your response and it is very much appreciated.