"Curious mix - some very good but much is..."

About: St Mark's Hospital (Harrow)

What I liked

Dad was referred to St.Marks in Sept 2010 for a surgery for recurrent cancer. Our first consultation was in Dec 2010, which was 3 weeks after completing pre-operative radiotherapy to shrink the tumour and make it easier to remove. Initial impressions of the hospital were good - MRI scan, CT scan and a biopsy were arranged, performed and a follow up consultation made within a month. Second consultation also seemed good, with the consultant devoting a lot of time to the case. We were told there was a possibility the previous diagnosis was incorrect and Dad might still be in remission, but that a second lump ought to be biopsied. We were told they’d be in contact in the next few days to sort the arrangements.

What could be improved

Subsequent quality of service has been shambolic.

It took 4 weeks and many chase-up calls for them to pass on the request for a biopsy to the relevant dept. When the biopsy appointment was finally made they didn’t post the letter to inform us until after the appointment had already passed. That put in a further 2 week delay to get another appointment.A few weeks later we were sent an appointment to have an MRI scan. No one could tell us why this scan had been requested, or what the biopsy results were. We found out via our GP who had been copied on a letter, not St.Marks, that the original cancer was not in remission, and that the second lump was also malignant. Due to the biopsy delays it was now 13 weeks since the last scans, so new MRI,CT and PET scans were needed before operating. It took a 4 weeks and a lot of chase-up phone calls before they faxed a request to the PET scanning centre at Mount Vernon so they could then arrange that scan. It’s now 5 weeks since the PET scan and 7 weeks since the MRI scan and still no follow-up appointment. We asked for copies of the scan reports to be sent to our GP, but they have refused to release them until the consultant has looked at them. – and he’s now off for 2 weeks and wont be back until June. We still have no appointments for a consultation, let alone a date for surgery. The last hospital were slow too, so by the time the consultant is back it will be a full year since the tumour was discovered. Dad’s ‘preoperative’ RT was completed 6 and a half months ago. Will it need to be repeated?

Anything else?

We’ve been very disappointed with the hospitals attitude towards these delays – they seems to be accepted as normal. We’ve been very disappointed in the poor communication, and most importantly are very worried that these unnecessary delays in treatment are doing real harm to Dads future health prospects.

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Responses

Response from St Mark's Hospital

We were sorry to learn of the difficulties and delays that your father has experienced with his care at St Mark’s Hospital. Your feedback will be passed on to the manager for this area so that appropriate action can be taken. In the meantime, if you require any assistance please contact the Patient Relations Team on 020 8869 2026, who will be happy to help. We would also welcome the opportunity to investigate your concerns formally, and if you would like us to do so please write to Ms Fiona Wise, Chief Executive, Northwick Park Hospital Watford Road, Harrow, HA1 3UJ, or via the Trust email, nwlh-tr.Trust@nhs.net

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