"how long is ' urgent ' is when awaiting treatment on the NHS"

About: Golden Jubilee National Hospital / Cardiac Surgery Raigmore Hospital Western Infirmary/Gartnavel General / Cardiology

(as a relative),

My husband took ill early last year, and was admitted to the local hospital. Initially he was treated for gastroenteritis although no bacteria etc was detected.

A doctor on day 2 diagnosed Hypoxia and told us they thought the main problem was in the lungs. It was also noted that my husband had had 2 minor strokes. Unfortunately although we saw approximately 13 doctors over the next 5 days we did not see this particular doctor again.

My husband was discharged after 5 days but readmitted 10 days later and has since been re-admitted to Raigmore on several occasions, the last time to Triage where he was told he needed a pacemaker, however he was then sent home the next day - no pacemaker.

He was then referred to Golden Jubilee and then Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow where he was told that along with a benign lung condition he also had a heart condition requiring a pacemaker which could be easily fitted at the local hospital. He was discharged from Glasgow 4 weeks ago and told his notes would be marked urgent for attention of the local hospital.

Today we have received a letter from the local hospital asking him to attend Out-Patients in 9 days time. (This will be a consultation not an appointment to carry out any necessary treatment). My husband is now utterly depressed and cannot see a solution unless he goes private. Is someone able to advise us on if we pay privately, would urgent in the private sector be less than 5 weeks?

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Responses

Response from Maimie Thompson, Head of Public Relations and Engagement, Chief Executive's Office, NHS Highland

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Dear Relative

I am really sorry to hear of your troubling year and your ongoing anxiety about the condition of your husband. There is clearly a lot to consider and I am sure what you must be hoping for is to have consistent information and clear management plan. If you would like to email or phone me with any more detail then please contact me on 01463 704722 or maimie.thompson@nhs.net.

I would also suggest (if you have not already done so) that you advise your GP of the current situation as he will be able to provide support and also liaise with the hospital. I appreciate that you must feel that you should not have to do so but it may give you further peace of mind to have some back up.

If you are unclear about anything in the recent letter you have been sent then you should also try and contact the hospital and see if you can speak to the Consultant or his/her Secretary.

In the meantime I will liaise with colleagues to see if they can look into this as matter of some urgency.

Once again I am sorry to hear of your distress and hope we can get any confusion or communication breakdown resolved.

Thank for contacting Patient Opinion.

Maimie Thompson

Head of PR and Engagement

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Response from Maimie Thompson, Head of Public Relations and Engagement, Chief Executive's Office, NHS Highland

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Dear Relative

As you know after you contacted us we took immediate action to look into the matter you raised. The Divisional Manager took personal responsibility to discuss with the Head of Service and Administrative colleagues and we now have a plan in place that you and your husband are reassured about. You have also been in touch with me personally and I am grateful for your feed-back. I thought it was also important to update Patient Opinion.

One of the issues we are grappling with is that often people are unwilling to speak out for fear of "rocking the boat" or that they will annoy healthcare professionals. Yet once your concerns were brought to our attention we were able to resolve the matter quickly. You told me that your own husband’s reaction to you "complaining" was one of "dread", in that he felt he may be put to the back of the queue. Other feed-back tells us that this is a pretty common reaction which perhaps we in Highland are particularly hampered with? So our challenge is how we: i) get things right first time; (ii) make it clearer about what to do if you feel "lost in the system" and (iii) keep on involving and listening to patients, carers and families . All of these things together will help us to improve. We want people to have a voice and for them to believe that it will be heard and action taken. To this end we are developing our work programme on "Patient Experience" including recruiting more people to be a part of our work to improve patient and carer experience. If you (or anyone else from Highland reading this!) would like to know more, please get in touch with me at maimie.thompson@nhs.net or 01463 704722

So thanks again for getting in touch and keep us posted with progress. I hope all goes well from now.

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Update posted by frustrated and depressed (a relative)

Dear Maimie

Thank you indeed for your exceedingly prompt attention to our frustrating situation of waiting so long for treatment for my husband's illness. We were very grateful that you, yourself kept us up to date at least once or twice daily,with the progress you and your colleagues were making towards rectifying the matter. On the fourth working day we had contact from Ms Margaret Beattie, (Manager at Raigmore ). Margaret was very kind and understanding and confirmed that the pacemaker would be fitted four days later. We also want to sincerely thank Dr Clarkson who carried out the procedure and explained everything so clearly. Also the staff of the Cardiology Intervention Unit at Raigmore who are fantastic! Over the past 13 months there have been many good and kind people working to help my husband but unfortunately we feel there was a lack of clear communication between the various departments and hospitals - and of course our reluctance to 'upset' anyone, which meant we were 13 months 'down the line' and no further forward - hence the frustration!

It is important for the patient to be able to voice concerns to the relevant health professional, whether that be nurse, GP, consultant or surgeon without fear of 'rocking the boat' - and I am sure your new programme will help to reassure the patients in Highland that they can have a 'voice'.

If health professionals get the time they need to listen to the patient, they will get the diagnosis, it is a shared process - patients need doctors and doctors need patients.

Thank you again for all you did to resolve this matter also for your empathy and understanding,

Kind regards -

A Satisfied Relative!

Response from Maimie Thompson, Head of Public Relations and Engagement, Chief Executive's Office, NHS Highland

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Dear Satisfied Relative

Thank you for letting us know how things have been going and for feeding back in such a balanced way. I have shared your comments with various colleagues in Cardiology; and our Chief Executive, personally reads every response on Patient Opinion. Of course we need to list patients, carers and families - you are experts on you and your situation. The more feed-back we get the better we will be. And the more we involve people in how we organise services and look to make changes the more succesful we will be. Please keep in touch with how things are going and dont hesitate to bring any concerns or ideas to our attention.

Kind regards

Maimie

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