"Stressful appointment at New Victoria Hospital"

About: New Victoria Hospital (Glasgow)

(as the patient),

Around mid June I was told to go and get my breasts checked out at the hospital as they found a lump in it. They didn't think it was anything serious but decided it was best to get checked.

I was told to wait for a letter to confirm my appointment. I waited, and then waited longer and phoned up my doctors to ask what had happened. They were puzzled nothing had been sent so they said they'd deal with it and get it sorted.

I was finally sent an appointment around the end of July, and I put this into my diary. I have a really heavy workload but this took priority so I moved everything around, appointments, meetings, workshops to fit it. Done.

The appointment was for September, I thought, bit far away but ok, I'll just have to accept that and try not to worry.

Fast forward to the start of September and I receive this: "Please note it has become necessary to change your appointment."

It was changed to the day after. After changing all my diary around before I had made it impossible to make this date.

The letter said phone the number above, it is the main switchboard on 01412016000. I phoned, got put through, the phone rang for 3 minutes and then beeped and cut me off. I tried it again. Same thing. And again. Same thing. I then googled the Clinic's direct number, same thing happened.

This went on for 4 days trying to change the appointment. I must have tried maybe 15-20 times to get through.

At one point I convinced someone to put me through to the doctor's secretary and left a message but no response.

Eventually after managing to stop the incredibly quick switchboard (we are now at a day before the appointment) I talk to a nice lady. (Everyone else had said they couldn't help and all they can do is put me through). She put me through to a secretary, who was the wrong one, then the right one. I explained what had gone wrong but she said she had not been here yesterday and that reception is always very very busy.

I totally understand reception is really busy, but seriously, when you are sent a letter that changes your appointment so close to the date I expect to at least be able to get through and say I won't be able to make it.

This has been really really stressful and I expect the New Victoria hospital to respond and improve this. I'm one of those people who really doesn't like going to the hospital or doctors and takes me a real push to go and get checked up. This has made me feel stressed, upset and worried that without being able to change my appointment I would be blacklisted for not showing up. And apart from this, I just want to get this checked out and ensure it's not something serious.

Anyway, I eventually got through, probably because I sounded teary on the phone and frustrated, and now my appointment is in October. 4 months that will be when I get there. (Pending they don't change it again).

I'm sorry to give feedback like this, because everytime I'm actually with a doctor or nurse everything is great. Just sort out your appointment/phone service, it is a nightmare.

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Responses

Response from John Hamilton, Head of Board Administration, Board Administration, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

We appreciate you spending the time to share your frustrations with us about the real difficulties you have had changing your appointment date.

I must start by apologising for the frustration you have experienced and the additional stress and problems this has given you. Sorry.

We value your feedback and are currently considering the specific issues you raise through your posting on Patient Opinion. Once we have done this, we will post a more detailed response.

Thank you for letting us know about your experience and we will be back in touch,

John

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Response from John Hamilton, Head of Board Administration, Board Administration, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde We are preparing to make a change

Thank you for sharing your concerns about the appointment and telephone service at the New Victoria Hospital. Please accept our sincere apologies for the evident frustration and inconvenience this has caused. Thank you for taking the time to provide this information on your experience. Your feedback is important as it allows an opportunity for the hospital to take action to prevent you or other patients experiencing similar problems in the future.

We are unable to comment on the specific clinic you refer to without further details however, I would advise that there are very limited occasions when appointments are required to be moved at short notice due to the unexpected unavailability of staff or other unexpected circumstances. We believe that this is likely to have been the reason why your initial appointment had to be changed. In these circumstances anyone affected should be contacted as early as possible, ideally by phone, to advise of these reasons and to discuss other suitable alternative appointments. I am sorry if that has not happened in your experience. Please be assured that these issues have been discussed with the staff involved to ensure that this communication process is improved.

We are extremely sorry that you were unable to have your phone calls answered when you repeatedly called into the clinic. We have discussed this issue with the manager responsible for the reception staff at the clinic and with our telecoms manager and have agreed to implement an audit process to identify the number of calls that are cut off and put in place actions to ensure that calls are answered within an acceptable time.

I trust that the above information is of some reassurance to you and again I thank you for taking the time to bring these issues to my attention and apologise for the unnecessary stress this has caused.

Mr R Coulthard,

Clinical Service Manager for Breast Services

NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

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