"Poor communication waiting for appointment"

About: Southern General Hospital

(as the patient),

I had an afternoon appointment with the nuclear medicine department at Southern general for an injection of radioactive tracer in preparation for a sentinel node biopsy and wide local excision to remove a cancerous lump from my breast the next morning.

I had travelled some distance and arrived an hour early for my appointment but was happy to wait. I checked in with one of the two reception staff on duty and then took a seat directly in front of the desk to wait for my appointment. There were only a few other people in the waiting area with me and for a proportion of time I was the only person waiting. The time for my appointment came and went and as I'm aware that there are often delays, I waited 30 minutes becoming increasingly anxious. I approached the same receptionist who checked me in to ask if I had got my appointment time wrong. He asked my date of birth and the advised they had no record of me on the system. I was upset and said to him that he himself had checked me in. He advised that he would try to find out what was happening. I felt very emotional as I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get the injection and this would compromise the operation the next day. I sat in the reception area crying and no-one approached me at any point to check if I was ok.

Eventually a nurse from the nuclear department came out and said that they'd been tannoying me and the tannoy must not be working. They had been calling my husband and consultant to find out where I was and had advised them both that I had not arrived for my appointment, causing concern to both parties. I don't understand how I was left for so long when in plain view of the reception team and no-one checked at any point to see what was happening. I also don't understand why someone did not check with reception if they thought I had not arrived for my appointment.

It was an upsetting and unnecessary experience at an already difficult time.

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Responses

Response from Lorna Gray, Patient Experience, Public Involvement Project Manager, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Dear Daltocat,

First of all, I am sorry to hear of your experience at the Nuclear Medicine Department, particularly at an especially anxious time for you. I am also sorry about the delay in responding to your comments, which was due to a period of handover.

I have been able to pass on your comments and have received some information from the Nuclear Medicine Department, which is detailed below:

"The Nuclear medicine Dept at the SGH is remote from reception so the current system is staff either phone us or call through the intercom system to notify us a patient has arrived. It seems in this case no message has got through to the department. As the staff were concerned that missing the appointment may lead to a delay if not cancellation of the surgery they attempted to locate you by contacting your home/consultant. However I am personally disappointed that no-one checked reception before attempting this as a simple check at reception would have resolved the situation quickly.

Obviously we are disappointed that your experience of our service was less than satisfactory and we are in the process of using the lessons learned from this situation to implement new practices in an attempt to ensure a similar situation doesn't occur again."

I would like to thank you for getting in touch with your feedback, and as there are very important concerns raised here I will also be sending your comments to the relevant Patient Experience Lead for further reflection on your experience.

Best Wishes,

Lorna

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Update posted by Daltocat (the patient)

Hi Lorna

I just wanted to say that I appreciate your response and that the trouble has been taken to understand what had gone wrong. The fact that this may lead to a review of the current practice for communication between the two areas is a good outcome.

Kind regards

Daltocat