"Poorly run appointments department"

About: Royal Bournemouth General Hospital

My elderly, partially sighted, diabetic mother received an appointment letter on 4.2.16 to be seen in the eye department on 8.2.16. I rang to ask for another appointment as I have to escort her and could not do it at such short notice – 4 days, 2 working days.

The only date they could offer was 4.4.16 – two months later.

On 1.4.16 she received a letter informing her that the appointment on 4.4.16 was cancelled and no reason given. It had been booked for 9.5.16 – a month later. She could not read the letter (due to poor eyesight!) and as I was at work I was unable to contact the appointments department had closed. There was no answer phone or email address to communicate with them.

It is poor practice to cancel and book appointments for elderly people at such short notice especially when they often rely on others for transport and carer support. It is also poor practice to have them wait three months for an appointment when they are only seen yearly as it is.

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Response from Royal Bournemouth General Hospital

Dear ‘Podge65’ / ‘Namaste’

Thank you for taking the time to express your concerns over your Mother’s recent appointment cancellations and we are sorry to hear this has resulted in a further delay in seeing the specialist. We appreciate this is distressing and inconvenient for your mother and you.

I have raised your concerns with the Ophthalmology team who asked me to express their apology for the short notice cancellation and the inconvenience it caused, and also to relay to you they do not take the decision to cancel appointments lightly and it is usually due to circumstances beyond their control. This is often due to either an emergency or unexpected leave required. We are unable to look into this in any more detail for you at this time as you have not provided me with your Mothers hospital details.

We also contacted the appointments booking team who noted that if the appointment date is under a week they make every effort to contact the patient by phone. However, if they are unable to contact the patient by phone a letter would be sent 1st class informing of the cancellation and advising of a new appointment date. The patient would then be rebooked to the next available clinic slot.

Without patient details it is not possible to look at the specific reasons for your mother’s cancelled appointments and the inconvenience this has caused you both. If you would like further details regarding this our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALs) should be able to liaise with the relevant people on your behalf, they can be contacted on 01202 704886 or email PALS@rbch.nhs.uk

Thank you again for raising your concerns and we do apologise again for the difficulties this has caused and hope your mother’s appointment in May goes smoothly.


Sue Mellor

Head of Patient Engagement