Older Than Dinosaurs…

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Choose & Book

Last week I had my first experience of the new improved NHS and the much heralded patient choice!

A month ago I experienced some visual disturbances in my left eye and duly went off to the optician. The optician did all the usual checks and said that although there was some vitreous degeneration there didn’t appear to be any retinal tears but she would refer me to be checked by an ophthalmologist who would be able to see a wider retinal field.

Three weeks went by and not having heard from the hospital, I checked with the opticians if this was the normal waiting time for some communication about my appointment. I was then informed that they don’t make a direct referral unless it’s urgent but had sent the referral request to my GP.

I called at the surgery to inquire what was happening only to find that although they had received the referral from the optician immediately after my appointment, they’d done nothing about it. I expressed my displeasure and was told the secretary would print off a letter, get a GP to sign it for me to collect the next day.

Much to my surprise what I received wasn’t any ordinary referral letter to a consultant but a printed off form for ‘Choose & Book’! I was required to choose one of five hospitals and make my own appointment, not by consultant but the most convenient for me judged by time, distance, parking etc. and whilst the criteria listed are worthy of consideration it’s not how I would choose to get a specialist opinion.

I decided I needed more information so went on-line and looked at the Clinical Excellence scores of the consultants (those that had one, that is) in each hospital. They were all much of a muchness, no one shone out, and as so much time had passed and the visual disturbances hadn’t worsened, I decided to plump for the nearest hospital.

There were four consultants listed at the local hospital none of whom had a CE score above 4 but in any case I found I could only book an appointment from a list which didn’t specify which one it was. I duly booked in and since then have received a letter from the hospital confirming the booking but still not specifying which consultant I will be seeing.

As a patient I want to feel confident that I have been referred to a consultant who will best be able to diagnose and treat my condition; this system gives me no such feelings of confidence so I await my consultation with not a little apprehension.

So much for patient choice!

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July 21, 2012 - Posted by | oldpeople | ,

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