"Waiting and communication"

About: Woodend General Hospital / Elective Orthopaedics

(as the patient),

I was referred by my GP in April of this year, having been suffering increasingly incapacitating hip pain since December and was first seen as an outpatient at the beginning of July, when it was decided that I should undergo an MRI arthrogram. I had this at the beginning of September and again attended out patients earlier this week for the results. The MRI was inconclusive and I was sent for blood tests.

I own a property which I let out, on a nightly basis. I am not a rich property owner, but a retired nurse who has invested her pension in a buy-to-let property. I do all the housework and laundering that this entails and am finding it increasingly difficult to manage this because of the pain in my hip. When I was nursing, my patients' social history would always form part of any decision making, but when I communicated this information to the doctor because he hadn't bothered to ascertain it for himself, he immediately assumed that this was because I expected to be "fast tracked". I was told that priority is given, rightly based on clinical need, to patients with cancer and those elderly patients who would lose their independence if not treated timeously. Never mind that I am in danger of losing my livelihood if I can no longer do the work.

According to NHS protocol and waiting deadlines, you will probably say that I have been treated fairly, but where is the sense in making me wait another eight painful weeks to tell me I need a blood test? Could I not have been phoned or written to as soon as the MRI results were seen, so that at my visit yesterday both the MRI and the blood test results could have been discussed and a treatment strategy agreed? As it is, my clinic visit yesterday was a complete waste of clinic time that could have been more profitably used by a patient still waiting to be seen. How many more clinic hours are wasted in this way? The various sections of waiting are probably not seen as excessive - 19 weeks from first GP visit to referral, 12 weeks from referral to first consultation, 10 weeks from consultation to MRI, 8 weeks from MRI to 2nd consultation, but this has now added up to nearly a year and I am STILL in pain, STILL without a diagnosis and STILL without any treatment apart from taking an ever increasing number of analgesics.

In addition, at my "consultation" the doctor just told me what would happen next. There was no discussion, no interest in how I am and will continue to cope and when I asked about possible coping strategies, hoping for advice on whether exercise, physiotherapy, pilates or yoga would help or hinder, the doctor jumped to the conclusion that I was looking for drugs and told me to go back to my GP. I would have liked to have been treated as an intelligent person, capable of understanding my condition and having a discussion on the best way forward, instead of which, I have been treated as a rather tiresome hip that should shut up and take its place in the queue for however long that may be.

Also, I cannot understand why doctors have such an aversion to patients informing themselves via the internet. When I had my MRI, the radiologist told me I should have phoned the department for information about the procedure. Had she had an MRI arthrogram? No? Surely then, the website forum I accessed that was compiled by people that have actually undergone the procedure would give me a more accurate description of the procedure from a patient's point of view and this approach did not take up valuable NHS staff's time. The information I gleaned from the website forum was absolutely correct in every respect. Do doctors who require medical treatment have to pretend they know nothing about their condition for fear of offending the doctor who is treating them?

Finally, there seems to be a supposition that a patient has nothing better to do than to sit and wait for an appointment and that they will be available for that appointment without any notice or planning. My clients can book in any time from 2pm, therefore I have to make myself available from that time. If I cannot be available, I have to ensure that someone can deputise for me.

Following my MRI, I asked when I would get the results. The radiologist said she did not know but that I should phone, which I did a week later. I was told that the results take a fortnight to be sent to the commissioning doctor and he would then decide on the appropriate next step. I asked how long this was likely to take and was told there was no way of telling.

When I had still not received any news after a month, I phoned again and was immediately given an appointment. Why was I not sent an appointment when the decision to recall me for one was made, giving me the maximum amount of time to make arrangements? Was there ever any intention of recalling me if I did not persist in phoning for updates?

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Response from Linda Oldroyd, Nurse Consultant Patient Safety and Experience, NHS Grampian

Dear Hayley

NHS Grampian aims to be a caring, listening and improving organisation so it is important for us to use your feedback for improvement. You raise many, varied and vaild points and make sesnible suggestions as to how things could be improved.

We apologise that you have not had the care you needed and expected.

It would be helpful to us if you would share the details of your case more fully. This would help us to understand what has occurred and increase our opportunities for learning. However we understand if you prefer not to.

If you decide you would like to get in touch, I can be contacted by email at loldroyd@nhs.net or by telephone 01224 558449

In the meantime we will ensure the service is made aware of your concerns and ask them for a response.

Kind regards

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