"Manipulation of Waiting Times for CT Scans -..."
About: Derriford Hospital Derriford Hospital Plymouth PL6 8DH
My GP requested a CT scan for me several weeks ago. I eventually received an appointment by post for a date in the middle of November that unfortunately I cannot attend. I phoned Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHNT) to rearrange this appointment. I was shocked to discover that PHNT policy does not allow appointments for CT scans to be rearranged to the next future date/time when the patient can actually attend. PHNT policy dictates that patients who phone to cancel an appointment are returned to the very back of the waiting list to start waiting all over again! I therefore now have to wait until the end of December/January before I will be given another appointment for this CT scan. If I cannot make that appointment, then presumably the same thing will happen again. This practice enables PHNT to manipulate its CT Scan waiting list figures to give the false impression that patients have not been waiting as long as they actually have been for a CT scan. This practice is clinically unsound, morally unacceptable and clearly puts patients at risk. It is likely to now be some 3 months between my GP requesting a CT scan and it eventually being undertaken. Presumably the official waiting list record will only show my length of wait since I was returned to the back of the queue earlier today. PHNT puts achievement of its waiting list targets before what is in the best interest of its patients. There is no comprehension at PHNT that patients who cannot attend a unilaterally made appointment that arrives in the post, may have co-morbidities and necessary appointments at other hospitals outside the area, or indeed have other perfectly valid reasons for non attendance. Patients should not be penalised for this. It should be possible for patients who cannot make an appointment for a CT scan to phone PHNT and to be offered the next available slot that they can attend, not be put to the very back of the queue to start waiting all over again, for another eight to twelve weeks. This appalling practice needs to be changed immediately! I will use "Patient Choice" and ask my GP to refer me to an alternative hospital that puts patients first and has far better clinical outcomes than PHNT. I pity those patients who are unable to travel further afield to access high quality health care in alternative NHS hospitals. The member of staff who took my call was very polite and understanding. I have no personal complaint against them, they simply have to carry out the management policies of this wholly dysfunctional organisation. It is hardly surprising PHNT has such long waits for CT Scans when it still only offers appointments at certain times Monday - Friday. It is not acceptable to all the patients waiting for their CT scans to be told that they will be moving to a 7 day service in 2015. This change of practice needs to happen with immediate effect!