"Waiting a year for treatment"

About: Leicester General Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as the patient),

I have previously mentioned my story in which I was diagnosed with shoulder impingement and have not received treatment, indeed I was told that it would be another six months before an ultra sound scan would be performed.

Last week I received an SMS message that I will reproduce here precisely (there is no identifying information within it)

"Reminder:

You will be receiving a telephone appointment on Thursday 17th January 2013 at 11: 40. Please ring XXXX XXXXXXX if you are not able to receive this. "

Firstly, I have received nothing in writing and don't know whether or not I will. The message used the future tense and therefore confirms it is a reminder for something that hasn't yet occurred. This is not a reminder as I have no knowledge of what they're talking about. I also don't know what a telephone appointment is. If I assume that an appointment will be given to me by telephone, why not detail it in the message?

Bizarrely it appears to represent an appointment for an appointment. I honestly don't know, because if the date and time mentioned is an actual appointment, I don't know where it will be held, or what it will be concerning.

I won't even guess at the motives of the hospital, but such messages aren't helpful to anyone and my grasp of the English language is very good. I think anyone elderly or without a good grasp of English will be completely confused by such communications and won't help patients attend appointments.

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Responses

Response from Tiffany Jones, Head of Communications & Engagement, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

Thank you for your comment.

We do give patients telephone appointments. They are used instead of a face to face follow up which saves patients travelling into hospital. If you are offered such an appointment then I would expect you would be called by a clinician, either doctor or nurse. For example we have telephone clinics for diabetic patients in our community nurse led service.

We do inform patients at their appointment if we plan to use a telephone appointment for their next appointment instead of a face to face meeting. Increasingly we would expect, where possible, that more follow up activity will be carried out with patients in non face to face setting, I.e. telephone and tele-medicine.

To get to the bottom of your specific experience then we need to have your patient name & mobile number, we can then find out which clinic the appointment was for etc. Please feel free to contact PALS free on 08081 788337 who can do the investigation for you and come back to you.

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Update posted by circumflex (the patient)

Please do not mistake my politeness as being any representation of how I feel physically, and in my current condition, the mistakes of other cause me severe problems and discomfort. None of this is helped by the interminable wait for treatment which is being looked in to by my MP as PILS did nothing to assist when I took the matter up with them months ago.

It's in the hands of my MP. Leave it at that.

The problem with the SMS message is that it didn't identify its source. If the hospital sends messages without identifying the source they are incomprehensible. Even that isn't going well as the hospital is telling me to make arrangements with which my GP can't or won't comply. This has happened before and is not helpful. I am in no condition to make arrangements for others. I just trust this will work out, or I'll pass it straight to my MP as well.

Response from Leicester General Hospital

We’re sorry to hear that you’re not happy with the experience that you’ve had. To provide a specific response we would need more detail so it can be investigated, however it might be useful to understand how and why we use SMS messages for patients. SMS messages are a free reminder service that we utilise to remind patients of an appointment they have with one of our services. Messages are kept simple on the premise that they are a reminder and also to protect patient confidentially. We expect that anyone who receives a reminder is already aware of their appointment – either they have booked it via the Choose and Book system, agreed it verbally with admin staff at their last appointment or have received a letter from us. We know that our admin processes are not perfect and some of our patients are contacted and not aware that they have a face to face or telephone appointment. That should not happen but unfortunately it occasionally does. Sometimes for short notice appointments patients get an SMS before the appointment letter. Ideally if a patient is being given an appointment at short notice they should be contacted via telephone. Again unfortunately this sometimes doesn’t happen. We are aware of the flaws in our systems and are continually working to improve them. With regard to telephone appointments, these are consultations that are conducted over the phone, removing the need for the patient having to travel to the hospital, pay car parking etc. There is no location and the patients simply need to be in an environment where it is easy for them to have a phone conversation with the clinician. This telephone appointment should not be a surprise as the service should have made the patient aware at their last hospital consultation that the next appointment would not be face to face. If for some reason you have received a message and you really weren’t expecting it, we have either sent it to you in error because we have marked down the wrong mobile number for you, or we have your number down for other members of their family – if so the reminder is intended for someone else not them. Please contact our PILS service free on 08081 788337 if you feel this explanation hasn’t helped and you would like your experience investigated.

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