"Waited for an hour to be seen, only to have a 3 minute appointment"

About: Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Wonford) / Ophthalmology

(as the patient),

I have to go to the Wonford hospital for various conditions but the eye unit is dreadful.

My eyes are generally very dry but they were particularly bad recently when I went to see my GP. I was advised to make an appointment with the eye unit to be seen by a specialist. I duly called the hospital to make an appointment and was informed I could not make an appointment directly but would need to done through my GP. Consequently my GP wrote to the hospital and an appointment was made – only for me to get a letter from the hospital asking me to make an appointment.

I used public transport to get to the hospital as I am not able to drive. I waited an hour to be seen, I was called in by a man who I could not understand, I was seen for a scant 3 minutes only to be told my eyes were very dry and to continue with the same treatment. If I could make an appointment when my eyes are especially dry it would help the hospital to assess how severe the condition can get.

Also at the eye clinic I am seen by someone different each time, whilst in other clinics there is more continuity, nor am I ever seen on time – the clinic always runs late whether it’s an early morning appointment or later in the day.

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Responses

Response from Rebecca McGuffog, Patient Engagement and Experience Officer, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us. I was sorry to hear of your recent experience in the Eye Unit at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. In terms of your appointment, patients are usually referred by their GP and then they receive a letter to ask them to call the “choose and book” team to arrange a preferred appointment time. We are aware of the potential for patients having to wait in the department and are working to address this, as we appreciate this can cause frustration.

I appreciate that it can be frustrating if you are seen by a different doctor and I can confirm that an additional Consultant has recently been employed, but it is often the case with trainee doctors that they change on a regular basis.

I would like to thank you once again for taking the time to share your experience with us, as feedback from our patients is always appreciated

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Response from Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Wonford)

I am very sorry to hear about your experience of the West of England Eye Unit at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. The West of England Eye Unit see an average of 250 patients per day and, due to the quantity of patients through the department, we are unable to facilitate ad-hoc appointments. All appointments are made via GP referrals and then through the central choose and book team. However, we do provide an emergency service should you feel your eye condition is serious enough and cannot wait to go through the normal booking system. The emergency eye room is situated within the Emergency Department. We are aware of the waiting times and we as a Trust strive to improve the patients’ experience. Waiting times are an area that is constantly being addressed. All appointment letters do state that you could have a wait of up to 3 hours and longer waiting times can sometimes be due the type of eye drops that need to be administered. Due to the quantity of patients through the department and the ever increasing demand for ophthalmology appointments we have now out grown the size of our department and we are currently taking steps to address this with the full support of the wider organisation. Unfortunately, these current spatial difficulties do also add some additional waiting time for patients and we apologise for this. As a Trust we employ highly skilled staff members from many cultural backgrounds. However, clear communication with our patients is extremely important to us so we will ensure that your comments in this area are acted upon. Once again I apologise for your experience in the West of England Eye Unit. We will continue to improve the service we provide and we always welcome feedback from patients. Should you wish to discuss your concerns further, please contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 01392 202093.