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Choose & Book pt2

As I said in the previous post, I used the Choose & Book system to get a hospital appointment most convenient to me and booked an appointment at the nearest hospital which was for September 20th.

Last Monday I received a letter telling me that the appointment had been cancelled and saying it could be one of three reasons why this might have been necessary (in other words take your pick) and I would be sent another appointment.

The following day when the mail arrived at lunch-time, I received a letter stating they had made an appointment for me that afternoon at 2.45, not at the local hospital but at the hospital near Crewe. The letter reiterated that I should not to drive myself because I would have drops put in my eyes, which was why I’d opted for the local hospital in the first place.

I rang to cancel the appointment and to ask why I had to go to Crewe instead of Northwich. It transpired that I shouldn’t have had the option of Northwich in the first place as they didn’t hold a primary clinic there at all. So I made an appointment for the following week, (yesterday), on the understanding that it would depend on J being able to take me there.

All was set, yesterday dawned, my appointment was for 1.55 and J had arranged time off work and was scheduled to pick me up at 1.00pm. At 9.15am I got a phone call from the hospital and a woman said can you come in now! When I asked why, she said she didn’t know. I rang J who luckily was able to rearrange things and agree to take me then.

We duly arrived at the clinic at about 10.15am and still I wasn’t given any explanation as to why I’d been summoned in the morning. Eventually, after we played musical seats being moved from one area of the building to another, I was taken in by a nurse to read the bottom line of an eye chart. I asked her why I’d had the time changed and her explanation was that they had a spare doctor and no patients booked in for him to see. In other words, admin was given the task of dragging in any patients who could turn up to make a list!

After waiting a further hour with no explanation, I was taken by another nurse to have drops put in; by this time I’d had enough. I told her what had transpired and complained that the complete lack of adequate communication wasn’t good enough. She, of course, wasn’t party to any of the cock-up but was good enough to say she understood my frustration and would speak to the department manager.

Thankfully very soon afterwards I was called to see the consultant who was thorough and efficient and confirmed that I didn’t have anything seriously wrong with my eyes and didn’t need to be seen again.

When I came out the nurse I’d complained to made a point of coming to tell me she had passed on my comments to the manager. Whether they will be acted upon, I have no idea but Thank God I don’t have to go back again to find out!

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August 29, 2012 Posted by | oldpeople | , | 1 Comment

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!

July 21, 2012 Posted by | oldpeople | , | Leave a comment