"Aggravated by the appointments system which suits the NHS, but not patients"

About: Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust / Podiatry

(as the patient),

After first feeling the pain in July 2012 and seeing different GPs on several occasions, I insisted in April that I be referred for examination by a specialist. I was then sent a letter by Shropshire Community Health with an appointment with a podiatrist for the end of May. This date was not convenient, so I phoned to ask to move the appointment by one week, and was given a new appointment on in late July.

From seeing the GP in April, for a problem that has existed for almost 12 months, I think to have an appointment for the end of July is a disgrace. I feel the NHS treats it's patients as a regrettable nuisance, with me being told it was my choice to not attend the scheduled appointment. People have lives that exist outside of the appointment system, with work and family commitments that mean sending a letter with a date and time on it is not an appropriate solution for patients.

Why can this not work like the private healthcare system? The GP writes the patient a referral letter, with some information about the local providers of the specialist treatment required, and the patient then contacts these providers and asks for the next available appointment. If one provider only has dates two months in the future, then the patient selects another provider with a shorter waiting time. If the local providers cannot provide the service, then the patient expands their search to neighbouring NHS trusts. The NHS could even provide a website listing waiting times for the next available appointment at different clinics.

This gives the patient control and allows them to book an appointment that is convenient to them. Plus, it saves the NHS considerable administrative costs in not needing to send pointless letters with random appointment times to patients.

When management see that waiting times for a podiatry appointment are over three months they will be able to question those providers and increase or withdraw funding if they are not able to meet targets.

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Response from Helen Handy, TRAQS & CAB Co-Ordinator, Telford and Wrekin CCG

Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback to the TRAQS team.

I am disappointed to hear of your experience in attempting to arrange a podiatry appointment. Unfortunately TRAQS are unable to book directly into these appointments as they are managed by the Community Podiatry Service which provides treatment to patients across the Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire areas.

For the majority of referrals received and processed by TRAQS the team are able to offer a Choice of hospitals and always offer the next available appointment. If a patient wishes to extend the search area or has a specific hospital they would prefer to attend we are able to do this which will enable TRAQS to offer appointments within the NHS at any hospital in England providing the patient is able to attend all appointments at their chosen hospital until discharge.

I am sorry that you are having to wait longer than expected for an appointment. Your feedback is very important to us as it helps us to develop the TRAQS service further.

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