"Trouble getting an ophthalmology appointment"
About: West Suffolk Hospital / Ophthalmology West Suffolk Hospital Ophthalmology IP33 2QZ
Posted by Magnus (as ),
I developed a blind spot in one eye, which became noticeable and therefore distracting, even though quite small, early in 2011. It is accompanied by other visual distortions which I now believe to be the blood vessels supplying the retina.
Naturally I went to a high street optician for a checkup, as my GP doesn't have the facilities. My prescription (short sighted) hadn't changed in four years. Initial FoV test confirmed the blind spot but visual exam, including retinal photography, couldn't detect any unusual areas, scarring or other damage. The ophthalmologist was concerned enough to recall me for 3-monthly checkups (at no further cost): each time we discovered that my prescription hadn't changed, and the blind spot seemed to come and go - sometimes it was visible on the FoV test, other times not. At each visit I was offered a referral, which I declined, hoping to get a proper history and save some time going back and forth with the specialist.
On the first visit of 2012 my prescription changed, not by much, but making my vision slightly worse. The blindspot is still there, and the other distortions are noticeable more often now. Although my ophthalmologist had changed and it is possible the prescription was merely the result of using different equipment, the change isn't drastic enough for me to be able to tell. As there had been some negative change, I decided to answer the question properly and requested a referral, which was sent at the end of January.
At the end of February I went to check with the opticians again: they claimed the letter had been sent, but as a sign of goodwill printed it, signed it, and sent it again (without prompting) while I was in the store. A fortnight later I checked in with my GP as I had still heard nothing, and the delay was unusual from both GP and local hospital (West Suffolk Hospital, a teaching hospital attached to the University of Cambridge medical school). My GP's receptionist confirmed receiving both referral requests but was clearly distressed to have no reply from WSH.
I waited another week before contacting WSH Ophthalmology myself. They are near impossible to get through to during the day, and go to answering machine at 5PM. When I finally found time to get through, yesterday, I was told they had only received the second (!) request, eight weeks ago, and that I would hear from them regarding the date of my first appointment sometime in the next ten weeks. I didn't argue for six weeks as I doubt I will even be seen in the next ten weeks as it stands.
I'm clear on what has actually happened, but I've never had this level of difficulty getting a simple, and urgent, healthcare assessment performed.