"A mixed experience that finally failed to diagnose..."

About: Bristol Eye Hospital

What I liked

I was referred across from the RUH with a suspected detaching retina and was squeezed into the next day's clinic.

The whole outpatient consulting area being rebuilt and patients let up onto the second floor in batches. The reception area staff dealt with the obvious mayhem in a calm and kindly way. I was very surprised at how the staff put themselves out to ensure that very elderly and / or immobile patients were kept up to date with progress and transit in and out of the area.

The nursing staff on the clinics were efficient and kept a lowkey sense of humour that dispersed the obvious tensions of working round a building site.

Because of my allergies and special needs (due to an unrelated serious medical condition) they took extra care to ensure I was treated well. Little things like getting the seat height correct for the equipment I had to look into while to avoid discomfort from serious tstomach cramps.

The suttle bus from Bristol Temple Meads to the eye hospital is excellent and crewed by drivers with good handling and communcation skills and a great sense of humour.

The appointments system worked really well and when I had to change one due to impposibility of attendance they changed it readily and with good will.

What could be improved

I am English - I do not know what my father got up to but know I am not Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish. The ethnicity statement that gives so much space to so many arcane ethnic combinations is an insult and nothing to do with ensuring equal delivery of service. It must be changed to reflect a real statistical delivery need. I am not Other, Other, specify.

The recording on my file of my serious allergies was poorly dealt with on several occasions and was not immediately obviousto nurses or doctors in the treatment room. Why is it buried under so many other papers inside the file. It should be big and bold on the outside of the file. It was the professional routines of the nurses before administering drops that prevented at least one crisis.

The wait and see aspect of the clinics resulting in many painful journeys and the interminable wait between appointments and wait for tests is something we have to put up with? why?

Although a detaching retina was discounted by all up to Professor level it was what finally happened. no one has taken time to explain that to me.

A number of medical staff had pronunciation that was difficult to comprehend. For me it took careful listening to understand - to elderly or confused with poor hearing it must be a source of great concern.

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Response from Bristol Eye Hospital

Thank you for your feedback about the Opthalmology Service. We are glad that you had a positive experience with the staff at the hospital, despite the obvious difficulties and pressures everyone was under during the refurbishment. Unfortunately the Ethnicity categories are not something that we can change. We understand your concern to ensure the prominence of patient allergies in the notes, but placing these on the outside cover could easily compromise patient confidentiality. As well as allergies being in the patient notes, it is standard practice for nursing staff to check whether a patient has allergies before administering any drugs, as you experienced before your treatment. We are aware that the clinics can become very busy at times and apologise for the undue waiting you experienced during your visit. The wait and see aspect of treatment is favoured sometimes because certain treatments can be painful, invasive and even result in a negative outcome, and therefore clinicians are reluctant to proceed with these until they have a definitive diagnosis. It would appear that you experienced a split opinion about your diagnosis, which unfortunately can happen, but should be appropriately explained to you and we apologise if this did not happen. We would encourage you to seek a full explanation from the clinician during your next appointment with us, or alternatively contact the Patient Support & Complaints Team (0117 342 3604 / pals@uhbristol.nhs.uk) if you wish to discuss other ways of taking this issue further. Strong accents (both British regional and oversees) can be a problem for patients and staff alike - if you don’t understand something one of our doctors have said, please do not hesitate to ask for clarification. This is an issue we continue to monitor and address as the need arises.

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