"Why am I being forced to wait?"

About: Crosshouse Hospital / General Medicine

(as the patient),

I was referred by my GP to University Hospital Crosshouse in December 2014, after having an ultrasound scan that confirmed I had gallstones. I was told that I would get an appointment in 12 weeks time.

In February I had a bloodtest which showed that my gallstones were having a detrimental effect on my liver, and my doctor recommended that I have surgery.

In mid to late March I called the hospital to confirm that I was on their register seeing as I had yet to hear from them, and the lady I spoke to, told me I would get it soon.

In April I called the hospital again seeing as I had exceeded the maximum wait of 18 weeks, and it turned out that they had sent the letter to my old address even though I had already given my new address to my GP before getting referred. As a result, I had apparently missed my appointment.

I’ve been given a new appointment, but it won’t be until the May, and I believe that it is just a consultation. From what I’ve heard, it might be another month or so before I get an appointment for surgery but by then it will be too late seeing as I’m going abroad in early July. Therefore, I will have to live with my gallstone pain for another 4 months or so.

Not only have I exceeded the 18 week maximum wait, now I am likely going to have to wait even longer because of a mistake within the system which was no fault of my own.

On my new appointment letter I can see that you have something called an appointment reminder service, and therefore I am left to wonder why no attempts were made to contact me before and after my missed appointment?

I feel that there has been an unacceptable lack of communication, and I feel like I am being left in the dark to suffer.

Why am I being forced to wait even longer than the 18 week limit, even though it wasn’t my fault that I missed my appointment?

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Responses

Response from Eunice Goodwin, Patient Feedback Manager for NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Quality Improvement and Governance Team, NHS Ayrshire and Arran We are preparing to make a change

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Dear Miss CT,

Thank you for contacting us and I totally agree that patients should not be disadvantaged by an error on our behalf. I am so sorry this has been so frustrating for you and I realise that so far, by contacting us nothing will have changed for you.

There are only same parts of the service set up to text appointment reminders so far, however, good news, this is due to be implemented from the 1st of June 2015.

I have had a chat with the service manager for the area of the service you require and if you would like to contact me (email - eunice.goodwin@aapct.scot.nhs.uk or phone me on 01563 826222) we can look into it further for you. I will need your name and date of birth.

I hope you are not in too much pain and your surgery all goes well.

Best wishes,

Eunice

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Update posted by Miss CT (the patient)

Dear Eunice,

Thank you for helping me.

I have been to my consultation, and I've got an appointment for a pre-op assessment.

I was told that there's a 12 week waiting list for operation, so that's another 12 weeks on top of the 22 weeks that I have already waited.

I'm so confused now. Even if it wasn't for the lost letter, I would still have had to wait a minimum of 24 weeks before receiving treatment. The consultation was very short. It was literally something that could have been done over the phone. Even a brochure would have been fine. Surely I should have gotten an appointment for that consultation within a week of being referred to the hospital rather than the 12 weeks? I mean, why is it that I have to wait 12 weeks just to be told I have to wait another 12? It can't be right.

I realise that it is not a high priority surgery, but I am constantly fearful of the intense pain from an attack and of any complications I might have. I've not been prescribed any pain medication either, so I have to suffer through it every time.

I don't know if there is anything that can be done about it now. I am going to have to wait till August either way, but I just don't think it's right.

Response from Eunice Goodwin, Patient Feedback Manager for NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Quality Improvement and Governance Team, NHS Ayrshire and Arran

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Oh dear Miss CT,

I am sorry, more waiting, so difficult and frustrating for you. It seems so logical to have telephone calls instead of consultations where applicable. This has rather eked out the process. I will discuss this with the manager of the service and I promise I will come back to you but I am aware that she may not be able to get back to me until early next week. More waiting! I am sorry but if it can be earlier, it will be.

Kind regards,

Eunice

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Update posted by Miss CT (the patient)

Dear Eunice,

Thank you for all the work you do, and don't worry about it. I've waited this long. Another 12 weeks will seem like nothing in comparison.

I think it’s too late to do anything about it. I'm afraid it won't be suitable to have it done earlier, seeing as I’m going abroad in July where I will be quite active. It would be bad if I were still under recovery from surgery. Not to mention the problems of exposing scars to the sun. The absolute latest I would have wanted it done, would have been the first week in June and even then it would be cutting it close.

Either way, I would rather be safe than sorry and I am therefore content with waiting another 12 weeks for surgery.

I'm glad to hear that the appointment reminder service is being set up, but I definitely think that there needs to be a change in the procedures of referral to hospital up until treatment. I have no idea how it all works, but I really think that there is something horribly wrong with putting people on a waiting list only to be put on another waiting list. Something needs to be changed.

I know someone from Denmark who had the same condition as me. Her case, like mine, was non-urgent, and she had the surgery after a maximum of 6 weeks from her initial diagnosis. I thought the Danish health service and the NHS were very similar, so why the massive difference in waiting time?

I just feel like I have been let down by the system, and the hospital in itself. I wouldn't have minded waiting so long if it wasn't for the agonizing pain, the horrible fear and the unbearable amount of money it's going to cost to buy travel insurance.

I'm sorry if all of my complaining has been a waste of time, and I don’t know whether there is any point in taking it further. My only hope is that it won’t happen to anyone else.

Response from Eunice Goodwin, Patient Feedback Manager for NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Quality Improvement and Governance Team, NHS Ayrshire and Arran

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Dear miss CT,

Thank you for your kindness, I am happy to help where I can.

I am so sorry you feel let down by the system and the hospital and I can understand why you do feel this way. Many people’s reason for feeding back to us, or complaining, is to try to prevent others from experience the same thing. While we have not helped your waiting time and the pain and distress you have I do hope a review of your experience can lead to an improvement. I will highlight this to the managers for their consideration and should there be any changes as a result of your post, I will let you know via PO.

I hope your holiday is fabulous and your surgery and recovery goes well. Could I help by carrying your bags for you in July?

Best wishes,

Eunice

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Response from Eunice Goodwin, Patient Feedback Manager for NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Quality Improvement and Governance Team, NHS Ayrshire and Arran We have made a change

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Dear Miss CT,

I thought I would pop on to let you know that as a result of your comment 'The consultation was very short. It was literally something that could have been done over the phone', we have a Consultant who has agreed to set up a pilot for telephone consultations where appropriate.

I think this is a great opportunity for us to learn from the pilot and spread that learning. Many more people may benefit in the future, patients, carers, families and the NHS, so thank you again for contacting us via PO.

Best wishes

Eunice

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Update posted by Miss CT (the patient)

Dear Eunice,

That's very good to hear. Thank you so much.

I hope it'll be successful and that it may prove helpful to everyone and perhaps save money/time. It's definitely very kind of a consultant to go out of his/her way to try something different and spread what they learn. I wish them all the best of luck.

Kind regards

Miss CT