"Eye see no GP"
Posted by MP2014 (as ),
My wife had a painful problem with her eye on a Friday evening in October 2014. We rang 111 whose first response was to tell my wife to visit her optician (I. e. the person who measures eyes for glasses). After a 60 minute conversation it was finally agreed that my wife should have an appointment with an out-of-hours GP. My wife was given an appointment at the local community hospital. The minor injuries staff left after 15 minutes. My wife and another patient were left in the waiting area. After another 30 minutes with no evidence of any GP we called the 111 service to be told there was no GP on site. We were given a new appointment at another OOH site 20 minutes away. My wife was examined by a nurse practitioner and was given a prescription to cover the weekend; my wife had a tear on her cornea that was very painful.
We raised two complaints with the 111 service:
a) The failure to recognise that my wife's condition could not wait 72 hours for a visit to an optician; when we contacted our local optician they were astonished that this had been suggested for any eye condition. The "pathway" used by the 111 service in this case seemed at fault but this was eventually palmed off (in our opinion) as a failure by the 111 operator to correctly interpret the pathway
b) The appointment at the local community hospital for an OOH GP that could not be fulfilled; the 111 service operator said that this failure was not their responsibility as the OOH appointment system was managed by the OOH service, a separate entity within the NHS. However the 111 service provider said that they would pass on the complaint to the OOH service. Four months later, having received no response from the OOH service provider, we contacted the OOH service directly only to be told that they had no record of our complaint.
My wife was eventually given an appointment at county eye clinic and she was told that the eye condition could take up to 12 months to heal completely.
Once we gained access to the correct medical care, the treatment my wife received was excellent. However the method of gaining access to the correct care was appalling. The subsequent complaint process and the response we have received to date leaves a very cynical taste - it seems that layer upon layer of bureaucracy are being placed between patients and medical staff. We have not yet been given any evidence that the same experience could not be repeated. Managers appear to pay lip service to the complaint processes.