"Why ask patients to do things that just aren't possible?"

About: Leicester Royal Infirmary / Clinical haematology

(as the patient),

The Haematology Department at Leicester Royal Infirmary told me that they wanted me to have blood tests performed at my GP surgery for my convenience.

This doesn't work as my surgery cannot arrange the tests on the dates set, no matter how far in advance I book them, and they don't hold a supply of the collection sample bottles necessary.

I have therefore had to make separate visits to my GP and the hospital before I have even given any sample. I also note that the dates on the appointment card and the sample slips differ. The significance of this was not mentioned, though it's beginning to dawn on me having received an anonymous SMS message from the hospital last week.

I had presumed that the message was from another hospital department as it didn't identify its source, but the date did not have any significance, as my GP surgery weren't able to comply with the ones set by the hospital. I am therefore going to receive automated anonymous SMS messages that are meaningless, apart from having to make twice the number of visits that I previously had to make to get the necessary sample bottles.

Whether or not I am going to be contacted with the results of the blood tests is yet to be seen and, if I don't, that will be the last straw, Why ask patients to do things that just aren't possible?

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Response from Tiffany Jones, Head of Communications & Engagement, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust We are preparing to make a change

We're sorry that your experience has left you so confused.

As pointed out recently, we are using technology, such as text messages to contact patients about appointments. However we take on board your feedback about the SMS not identifying where it originated in the hospital. I will pass this on to the team who manage this system.

I do hope that you've managed to speak to a health professional now, and suggest that you contact our PALS team free on 08081 788337 if you have any further concerns.

Best wishes,

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Response from Leicester Royal Infirmary

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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