"Nothing I was recently referred by my..."

About: Clatterbridge Hospital

What I liked

Nothing

I was recently referred by my doctor to the breast clinic as I had found a lump in my breast. I was reassured by my GP that it was unlikely to be cancer but would need to checked and I would receive an appointment for about 3 weeks time. I felt relaxed and reassured that I would be seen in a reasonable time and did not worry at all.

The next day I was contacted by Clatterbridge Hospital with an appointment for the following Friday 10/9 at 10.05 to see the consultant. This gave me a little over a weeks notice to organise my workload and arrange cover, which was fine. I was also told in that phone call that someone would contact me to come in, probably about 9am on the same day for a mammogram.

It wasn't until Wednesday, 8/9 I was contacted about the mammogram and given 1 days notice to attend on Thursday 9/9, then again on 10/9 to see the consultant. Which I explained I could not do. I was told that the concultants appointment would have to be cancelled, I was given a phone number to see if I could get another appointment, but that it would be unlikely. No explaination was given for this sudden short notice and began to feel quite stressed and scared.

I rang the number and asked if there was some reason for the ugency and that I expected to wait a little longer, but it was difficult for me to just drop everything at short notice. I was shocked to be told that it was because the Consultant had a target to offer appointments within 2 weeks. By offering appointments I couldn't attend, they had fulfilled their duty of care and I would not be offered another appointment. I came off the phone in tears, knowing that because I couldn't jump at whatever short notice the consultant decided to give me I would not be seen. I received a letter today which bluntly states "You have contacted us to cancel your appointment. No further appointment will be sent to you."

What could be improved

I also work within targets, and arrange appointments with people, but I never forget that people are not targets and it is them that actually matter.

I understand that many women appreciate a quick appointment when finding a lump in the breast. It is very frightening and stressful. Quick, effecient diagnosis makes a big difference, so of course appointments should be offered as soon as possible. I am happy to think that maybe someone who needed to be seen may have been seen quicker because I couldn't go at short notice.

However I do not accept that I should be punished because I would muck up the Consultants target. Now I just have to hope it is not breast cancer instead of being able to find out for sure. Instead of being reassured by the Health Service I pay taxes for, I am stressed and scared.

Patients should be involved in decisions about their care from beginning to end. That includes being given enough notice of appointments. If that means having an appointment a week or two ahead, instead of the following day, this should be possible.

Anything else?

I would advise anyone not to go to this hospital for breast care - you are not as important as the Targets.

Story from NHS Choices

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