"I was very pleased with the speed of..."

About: St Albans City Hospital

What I liked

I was very pleased with the speed of referral to this hospital. I hadn't even been back to my GP to collect my diagnostic test results when I received my referral letter, inviting me to a specialist appointment within a week of my tests taking place and 2 weeks of my 1st GP visit.

I was seen on time and the staff were very polite and friendly.

What could be improved

1. Tell patients if there is a chance they will not be seen by the consultant with whom their appointment is booked.

I was told I would be seeing one (female) consultant but instead was seen by another (male), even though the consultant I thought I would be seeing was at the hospital at the time of my appointment.

I know it isn't always possible to see the person with whom you're booked and would much rather have seen a male sooner than wait to see a female, but I was already nervous about the appointment and this made me even more unsettled. Had I known about it in advance, I think I would have felt more at ease. Even the consultant I saw remarked on how tense I was and told me to relax more!

2. Give staff orientation training if they're going to be working somewhere that isn't their usual place of work.

None of the nurses, nor the consultant that I saw, had worked at St Albans before and no-one seemed to know where anything was kept. A quick 1-hour tour of the facilities where they would be working, from someone that already worked there, would have solved this problem and made everyone's lives a lot easier!

Anything else?

I've heard a lot about "Choose & Book" but so far I've been sent for 2 scans and a consultant's appointment at 3 different hospitals and haven't had the opportunity to choose or book anything!

Again, I'd rather be dealt with sooner than wait to have more choice but I do wonder when this very well-publicised initiative actually comes into play!

As a non-driver with a full-time job, it would be very useful to be able to choose when and where I'm seen wherever possible. However, I suspect that the centralisation of services from local facilities has resulted in there in fact being no choice for patients, because each service is only offered in one place! This seems a great shame and is very frustrating for patients like me, as very little information is given as to how people without private transport can get to their appointments, or if there is indeed any help available.

It seems ridiculous that a medical team and patients from one location ALL have to travel to another hospital, miles away, when it would be much easier (not to mention reducing the carbon footprint!) for them all to meet at a more local facility.

Story from NHS Choices

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