"Small waiting room made things stressful"

About: East Surrey Hospital / Ophthalmology

(as a relative),

Copy of a comment I left on a patient survey website concerning a cataract operation at Limpsfield Ward, East Surrey Hospital;

I took my 88 year old mother in to the eye unit for a 12. 30pm cataract operation. The waiting room was so full that I had to leave her there and sit in the corridor for two hours before finding a seat in the waiting room.

She was not seen until 3. 15pm, and was not operated on until 5pm, finally being discharged at 5. 45pm.

The nursing staff and doctor were very good with her, but why the long wait? I know that you book a number of patients in at the same time, but if you know that some will have to wait for three hours or more to be seen, couldn't you stagger the appointments?

For an elderly, confused lady, I do not think that this is acceptable, as she couldn't understand why she had to wait for so long. To her, an appointment at 12. 30 should mean that she was seen then, not three hours later, and I agree with her.

Thankfully this is her second cataract operation, and hopefully she won't have to go back for any more attention.

Is there anything that you can do to prevent this happening in future to other people? Most of those waiting were very elderly, and naturally needed their relatives there to help them, but with the small waiting room it made it very stressful for all concerned, including the staff on duty. It didn't help that some medical supplies were stacked in boxes on trollies in one corner of the room, which meant that when they were needed by the staff, people had to move out of their seats to allow access.

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Responses

Response from Barbara Bray, Chief of Surgery, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust We are preparing to make a change

Dear Arfajob

Thank you very much for your comments about the waiting room on our Eye Unit in Limpsfield Ward and also your observations about the delay to be seen by your mother who is elderly and confused. I agree that it is not acceptable in the standard of the watiing facilities you describe or ideal in the admission process. The staff in the Ophthalmology Dept do a great job in very limited facilities and we recognise that they need to be improved. If you would like to be involved in planning how we upgrade the unit or come into talk to us further please contact me on barbara.bray@sash.nhs.uk. In the meatime I will ask the team to look into changing the admission times to see if staggering them would still allow the operating list to run smoothly - stop/starting the list for the eye surgeon to come out to see the next admission every time may have unintended consquences in terms on concentraion and theatre process.

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Update posted by arfajob (a relative)

Dear Barbara

Thank you for your quick reply to my comments. I agree with you that the staff really do wonders with the resources that they have. They were really kind and kept apologising for the wait.

I am not suggesting that the surgeon stops and starts his or her operations to see each patient as they are admitted, that would take all day.

At the moment, correct me if I'm wrong, it appears that all the patients are required to come in at one time, then they all are seen by the surgeon individually, after which the surgeon changes and starts operating.

If, for example, twelve patients are admitted, the consultation process takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes per patient, which means that the last person has been sitting in the waiting room for over three hours before being seen, they then have a further 2 to three hours wait for the operation, which again, in the case of cataracts, takes 15 to 20 minutes. My suggestion about staggering the admission times was simply why not ask the first four patients in at say 12pm, the following four at 1pm, and the final four at 2pm. This will avoid having anyone having to wait for more than an hour before seeing the surgeon.

Admittedly, the first person would still have to wait 3 hours before their operation, but the following patients would also be waiting 3 hours, instead of 3 to 5 hours or more.

The only way to get around this is to have one person admitting and another operating, that way each person would be in and out within an hour and a half. I realise that this is probably not possible giving staffing levels etc.

Thank you for the invitation to help in the planning of the unit, but I am not sure how much help I would be, although I would like to help in some way?

I realise that you have a tough job to do, with targets to be met and insufficient staff and resources to meet them.

I am not sure if my above suggestion is practical, but I wrote the original comment in the hope that something could be done to alleviate the situation. It is good to note that you are considering improvements to the facilities. Thank you.