"Orthopaedics at Whipps Cross"

About: Whipps Cross University Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as the patient),

I had a consultant Orthopaedic appointment which resulted in a referral to Physiotherapy. After a month I'd heard nothing so rang to check. Had to wait on hold for a while just to get through to the switchboard, then when put through to Orthopaedics it was terrible - just hold music for 30 minutes, occasionally interrupted by the switchboard person saying "please keep holding" but not giving me a chance to reply before switching me back to the music. I eventually got through but was just promised a call back with the answer to my question - which never happened (once someone did call but they didn't leave a message stating what was happening to my referral, just asked me to call back - so back to Square 1, on hold again)!

I had to go through this 3 times on consecutive days, each time waiting on hold for 20-30 minutes. This is difficult for me as I work full time so it was hard to take half an hour out to make a personal call. The final time, the person I spoke to sounded really harassed and said there was a huge pile of referrals which weren't being dealt with because of staff shortages - they asked me to ring back. I explained about the half hour on hold and they said there just wasn't even anyone to pick up the phones. they were apologetic and I felt sorry for them but this doesn't inspire confidence. Once again they promised to call back but didn't. The next day I called the switchboard again and this time when I explained the situation they put me through to Physiotherapy. This time the call was answered straightaway, and I was told an appointment had been made for me in 7 days' time.

Great news - but I hadn't had any notification of this and didn't receive the letter until just 4 days beforehand. It's no wonder people miss appointments. If I hadn't been so persistent with chasing up I wouldn't have known in time and would have struggled to book the time off work. The letter said I'd get a text reminder but I never had one. Can I suggest that if the hospital has a mobile number for a patient, which they did in my case, when an appointment is made they are texted immediately rather than waiting for the post? Also that more administration staff are needed in orthopaedics?

On the positive side, once I got to my physio appointment everything was great - appointment actually started early and the physiotherapist was sympathetic and professional.

I feel that under-resourced/outdated admin is letting down the clinical teams who have been very good (both Orthopaedics and Physiotherapy). It feels like the onus is on me to spend time chasing and checking things when I should be able to rely on the hospital to keep me informed.

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