"Aggravated by the appointments system which suits the NHS, but not patients"
About: Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust / Podiatry Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust Podiatry
Posted by RobJones (as ),
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.