"Cost cutting that affects patient well being."

About: Furness General Hospital

What I liked

I visited or had family members visit both cardiology and rheumatology. Some doctors are professional, thorough and polite; particularly in rheumatology. Nurses generally work hard and are professional and polite. Decor has been improved in recent years.

What could be improved

There seems to be a lot of use of locums to bridge the gap in both cardiology and rheumatology, which may be due to poor staffing levels as full time members of staff leave and are not replaced. Patients are not consulted about whether they wish their care to be switched from the consultant, or a member of his/her team, to a locum. This is the case even when use of a locum is planned months in advance. This results in very poor continuity of care and distrust of the service on behalf of the patient. Locums do not appear to have been briefed about patients and do not always have the test results or notes for the patient. Nevertheless even without the relevant information some locums seem very happy to discharge patients from the consultant's list. On the positive side this improves the hospital's figures and leaves the GP free to refer the patient back to the same department when it is found that discharge was inappropriate.

Anything else?

Please FGH invest in properly trained and resourced departments and save the use of locums for occasional sickness and holiday absence. Please replace staff who retire or leave for other reasons with properly trained full time members of staff. Also if you organise a clinc at weekends please allocate support staff to locate patient records and distribute them to the consulting physician.

Also, when a consultant requests an appointment for a patient in six months, please will you ensure they get that appointment in six or seven months and not twelve?

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Response from Furness General Hospital

Thank-you for taking the time and trouble to comment on our services at Furness General Infirmary. In general the Trust tries to minimise the use of locum doctors as much as possible, although there are circumstances where it is unavoidable. In terms of the specifics of your comments, if you would like us to look further into the difficulties you experienced please contact our Customer Service Manager so that we can discuss your concerns in greater detail. They can be contacted via our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 01539 795 497.

We place great value in the fact that local people continue to choose our hospitals and we openly encourage patients and visitors to give us their feedback. This will enable us to continually improve the services we offer and the experience our patients have whilst in our hospitals.

To be kept informed about the latest news from the hospital you can visit our website. If you are not already a member and would like to sign up please visit the following link: http://www.uhmb.nhs.uk/trust/how-to-become-a-member/

Should you wish to make a complaint then you can do so by writing to our Chief Executive at: Trust Headquarters, Westmorland General Hospital, Burton Road, Kendal, LA9 7RG. The Complaints Team and the Chief Executive can be contacted at the address indicated above or by ringing 01539 795 332. More information can be found on our website: http://www.uhmb.nhs.uk

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