"Failure of appointment system"

About: Sussex Eye Hospital

Last year (13th May 2014) I visited the hospital where it was explained to me that, having Ocular Hypertension, I should be seen yearly at the hospital. The receptionist assured me that I would be sent an appointment by post well ahead of time for that 12-monthly appointment. No appointment was sent. So I phoned the Eye Hospital this morning - it took almost half an hour to get through. Eventually somebody answered and I explained that I should have had an automatic recall appointment by now. I was put on hold about 8 times. At last the receptionist said that the earliest I could be seen was on 26th August - so more than 15 months, not 12 months since the last one. When I asked what had gone wrong with the system the telephone answerer unhelpfully said "I can't answer that question". They repeated this comment every time I queried the failure of the recall and asked why it hadn't happened. Something has clearly gone badly wrong with your auto recall system. The person at the end of the phone has taken my email address and said that they would look to see whether an earlier appointment might be arranged. In the meantime I have reserved the August date. However, I was also told that the appointment would consist of two parts: an eye test at 11.30am - and an appointment with the consultant at 3.50pm. I live 12 miles from Brighton, so it's not practical to go there and back twice in one day - but as you can imagine, this is very disruptive of work and entails spending virtually a whole day at the hospital - all of which could have been avoided if the appointment had been made (as promised) a year ago, with both necessary appointments placed side by side. This experience has been frustrating, time-consuming and all completely unnecessary. What made it far worse was the absolute unhelpfulness, surliness and lack of any apology by the person who answered the phone. I suggest that you immediately look into an overhaul of your automatic recall system and ensure that it works properly in future - also that you send your telephone-answering staff on some training days to improve their customer relations skills.

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Response from Sussex Eye Hospital

Thank you for your comments.

Should you wish to discuss this matter further, please contact our Patient Advice & liaison Service (PALS) at pals@bush.nhs.uk or on 01273 664973.

Kind regards

Patient Experience Team

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