"Outpatient Appointment for Dermatology"

About: Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Glasgow / Skin conditions

(as a relative),

My daughter has been waiting several months for a dermatology appointment in South Glasgow. She received one for February sent. She could not attend and cancelled. Was told she was back on the waiting, list.

We are all painfully aware of the financial constraints on all NHS services and understand that life is not perfect.

She received another for mid March which we received through the post 3 days before which she opened day after the appointment, which was when she arrived home. Even if she had been at home, one working day to cancel.

We emailed on two days later with her telephone number, and an explanation that she was a student mid exam and that a phone call would save sending appointments which would be cancelled. No reply. Then we emailed reminder to them the week after. The day after we emailed this reminder we received an appointment by email for an appointment a week later.

We called the number which was not on the letter to rearrange, waited 45 minutes for a reply to be told we could only cancel on that number. The genuinely helpful lady gave us the referral number to call 0141 452 3493. This number is not published anywhere obvious and not on the appointments. This was over a bank holiday weekend. On calling on Tuesday morning the telephone line appeared to be permanently engaged.

On Wednesday morning called and spoke to a gentleman to rearrange the appointment.He said " I have just sent a letter by courier for an appointment this Friday" Courier! I couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry at that point. He also said most people manage with one weeks notice and that the postal service wasn't his problem.

I should say at this point my daughter then spoke to them and arranged a consultation for later this month. I called 201 4500 ext 1 (complaints) and spoke to a lady who was sympathetic. During this process I had sent several emails. At no time did anyone phone my daughter or volunteer the phone number. The lady whose name is on the bottom of these appointments called me back and said that the problem is the government rules and legislation. I tried to point out that that a phone number or other modern technology would actually be the solution. Not sending a letter by courier which is 19th century. She said they were too busy to answer the phone and that she hadn't read my emails which were marked for her attention. Today a lady from complaints said I had to make a formal complaint.

I struggle to see why this is all so difficult. I am sure that sending out letters works for some people. This should be easier. If at any point a manager had said we hear you and we will feed that back I would be much happier. Instead people were defensive. A system as it stands sending out letters which arrive with less than a weeks notice is wasteful with appointments being cancelled always at short notice by definition. The postal service is their problem. No apparent means of rearranging is ridiculous, and sending letters by courier when email had previously worked is risible. I think telling people that they are back on the waiting list because a suitable appointment hasn't been sorted by the department is aggressive. In short I find none of this patient focused.

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Responses

Response from Lisa Ramsay, Patient Experience Public Involvement Team Support, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

Dear Frustrated of Netherlee

Thank you for taking the time to post on Patient Opinion. I am sorry that you and your daughter have had so much difficulty regarding her dermatology appointment and I agree with you that what you have described was not patient focused.

I fully appreciate how frustrating this would have been for what should have been a straightforward process. I know that it can be difficult to rearrange an appointment via the contact telephone numbers during busy periods however we are working to improve that. The appointments team have already reviewed staffing levels at peak times which has seen an improvement on the amount of calls answered. In addition, the appointments team are looking to develop the kind of technologies that you have mentioned in your post to give patients improved options of contacting them, I.e. one contact number instead of more than one, text reminders etc.

I would also like to pick up on the way you say you were spoken to by a member of staff when trying to rearrange the appointment. I am sorry for this and you should not have been spoken to in that manner. You should also have been given more help over the phone. I will ensure this is passed on to the most appropriate people.

At some point during this process you should have been given the opportunity to provide feedback on how difficult and frustrating this had been for you and your daughter. I am sorry this did not happen and on your behalf I will pass your post on to the appointments team.

Best wishes

Lisa

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Update posted by Frustrated of Netherlee (a relative)

Lisa, thank you for your response. It is great to hear that you are looking into more modern ways of dealing with appointments. It would free up staff to perhaps do more fulfilling roles. If technology was widely embraced you would not require additional staff to answer phones. My intention originally was to secure am appointment for my daughter, but subsequently to try to help make the process easier for your department and other patients. I am happy with your positive response.