"After referral to Orthopaedics ..."

About: The Great Western Hospital

(as the patient),

What I liked

After referral to Orthopaedics in Jan 2006, I was finally booked for a caudal epidural in Jan 2007 for which it was assumed, by Admissions, that I would need a general anaesthetic. I had asked about a local anaesthetic but was told that was not an option. When I arrived for the surgery I was told that there was a delay due to the absence of the anaesthetist, who was needed elsewhere. What I liked was that when the nurse who was doing the epidural explained the reason for the delay, he offered the option of doing it, without delay, with a local anaesthetic. Within about 20 mins I was in the recovery ward, feeling no pain or discomfort whatsoever and after about two hours I was on my way home. I liked the medical staff, their competence and their friendly and efficient demeanour.

What could be improved

What I did not like was the attitude and inefficiency of the Admissions clerks. I could have had the epidural six months earlier but the letter never got to me and, until I told them otherwise and they checked their records, Admissions were under the impression that I had simply failed to turn up. When I returned to Orthopaedics, in April 2007, for the follow up on the epidural, it was agreed with the Consultant that a more effective course would be surgery (rather than further injections) and I was put on the waiting list. In July 2007 I went to the Preadmission clinic when I was found acceptable except for the fact that I had a dental abcess. It was agreed that surgery would be delayed until the abcess was dealt with. The offending tooth was extracted 20th August 2007, 3rd September 2007 Admissions were informed that I was fit for surgery. 15th September I received a letter, dated 7th September, giving me ten days (i.e. 2 days) to confirm that I would be available for surgery in the month of October. They were very pleased with themselves for having reduced waiting times. I gave the confirmation on the 15th Sept and waited for an appointment. When I called Admissions 25th October I was told that I had an appointment for 21st November but would have to come in for an assessment before then. They didn't seem aware that I had spent 5 hours in the Preadmission clinic in July and had a second MRSA swab in September. Suggestion: First, improve Admissions system to something approaching logic. Second, replace Admissions staff with people who can read, write and process information. Third, introduce staff to each other and advise them that they will do a better job if they liaise and work togather rather than in ignorant isolation.

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