"Diagnosis for back, leg & foot pain"

About: Hertford County Hospital / Neurology

(as the patient),

I was referred by my GP and first saw a locum Neurologist in December 2006 who arranged for blood tests and neurological tests. The tests were made in March 2007 and no problems detected apart from low folate levels. A MRI scan on my neck then followed in June 2007. On this occasion I queried why my neck was being scanned rather than, what I believed to be the source of the problem, my back. It took a further 2 weeks for the consultant to advise on this.

The results came back indicating normal wear and tear for a 60 year old and a review with the consultant was held this week on Tuesday 18th September. The appointments were running over an hour late and when I left the consultation it was on the understanding that there was still no diagnosis and that a brain and thoracic scan would be arranged. The consultant commented that he wished he'd asked for these before. A waiting time of some 4-6 weeks was indicated, with a follow up appointment in 4 months.

When I tried to book this before leaving the Hospital, the booking system would not accept a booking so far in advance. Today I learned why - the consultant leaves this month and I am to see another doctor in January 2008. This was not mentioned to me on Tuesday, and I very much got the feeling that the consultant was "passing me on" with little regard for any courtesies or explanation.

In the interim period, when I reported that my symptoms were more persistent, the consultant prescribed an anti-depressant, which carries a warning about not driving when drowsy. My daily commute is a journey of 35-40 minutes so this is of little use.

When searching for the NHS complaints procedure online, I came across your website, and the PALS link. Whilst writing this story, I have now had a call back from a very helpful PALS advisor about waiting times for scans and the new consultant and plan to discuss the situation with my GP. The scan has been booked as "routine" rather than "urgent". Although I am a little disappointed by this further delay, if requests are based on clinical need rather than a protracted diagnosis process, then I have to accept the situation. I am left wondering how different the diagnostic process would have been had I been a private patient.

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