"Accessibility & Communication"

About: Morpeth Cottage Hospital

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I find it astonishing that in spite of a review on this site dated March 2010 (and the response from a senior manager) there is absolutely no improvement in the communication systems at Morpeth Cottage Hospital. I wish to contact the Podiatry department and have a letter dated February 2013 from the department which contains a telephone number for contacting the department directly. The number is 01670 395615. I've called this number constantly over the last 7 days (4 or 5 times each day) and ta no time has it been answered or redirected to an answering machine. This morning I telephoned my local surgery who were unable to give me any alternative means of contacting the department. Subsequently I contacted the main switch number (0844 811 8111) who did not have any number listed but eventually transferred me to a number (unknown) at Morpeth Cottage Hospital. The telephonist was unable to give me a number, but after speaking with a colleague gave me 01670 500922 and warned me that "the lady was speaking on that number at the moment" - I've now been calling this number for some time although on each occasion it is eventually transferred to and answer phone. I've left a message, but my confidence is now so low that I really doubt that anyone will respond. There are some significant questions: 1. Why does the department publish the 01670 395615 number when it is transparently obvious (and documented here) that there have been issues with this number being answered for the last 3 years? 2. Why is there no listing in the main 084481181111 number for the Podiatry department? 3. When email is rapidly becoming, (if it has not already become) the favoured method of communication, why does the Trust not adopt it for communication with its patients? And finally please, how do I contact this department without having to devote hours of my time to the task? This online form requests that I state the department which I visited. I haven't visited a department, but I do know that the one I want to speak to is Podiatry which is not listed! The only reasonable selection is "Don't know" which is obviously wrong in this case!

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Responses

Response from Morpeth Cottage Hospital

Dear Sir/Madam Can I profusely apologise for all the frustration that this has caused you. I can entirely understand how irritating this must have been for you - it is unacceptable and I am sorry. Thank you for drawing to our attention the problems you have been having- it has allowed us to look into this and put measures in place to try and ensure that yourself and others don’t have the same problem again. In the past couple of weeks we have moved our services, including podiatry, from Morpeth Cottage Hospital to the new Morpeth NHS Centre. We had a system in place to make this changeover as smooth as possible in terms of patients contacting us through the old number, with an answer machine providing the new number for people to call. This has clearly failed. We have now ensured that this is working, as it should have been when you needed to contact us. We will also take measures to ensure all our switchboard staff are aware of it. The number that you were given though our switchboard is the correct new podiatry number - 01670 500922. While our staff have been very busy in the new centre with the move, this should not affect our patients and it is no excuse that you have not received a call back. Again please accept my apologies that you have been kept waiting. This is not the way that we ever want any of our services to run and is far removed from the experience we want our patients to have. We would like to talk to you directly so we can rectify this with you and to be sure that we can answer any queries that you were trying to contact us with initially. Helen Smart, community podiatry manager, is now aware of the problems you have been experiencing and would be pleased to talk to you – she can be contacted on 01665 511979 / Helen.smart@northumbria.nhs.uk . I’m not sure which online form you are referring to as we monitor emails coming in through our website regularly, but again perhaps you would be kind enough to clarify when you contact us. Kind regards Annie Annie Laverty, Director of Patient Experience

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