“Your call is important to us…” Really?

Not being a passive patient, and in the light of a discharge letter that indicated a clinic review 2 weeks after discharge, and having heard nothing, I thought it might be worth ringing the Referral and Booking Service to see if there was anything in the system for me. At 1630 I got the first ‘busy message’ – “Our call is important to us…please hold and we will answer shortly”. This was repeated at roughly 20 second intervals for the next 23 minutes before it was answered by a very helpful man who told me that there was no record of any appointment or request! Only the appointment for 28th June that was ‘postponed’ in the light of me having surgery 2 days later.

Helpfully he gave me the endocrinology consultant’s secretary’s number and transferred me – no response whatsoever.

So now I find that not only was the discharge letter not received by my GP (I cannot say whether it was sent, only that 10 days later he had not received it) but that also the follow-up arrangements stated in the letter appear not to have been acted upon either. Whoops is hardly strong enough.

Coincidentally I receive an email from the Patient Experience team in response to my last blog and take that opportunity to discuss the situation with them. This results in two actions – firstly a call from the Patient Advice and Liaison service who volunteer to chase my urgent concern about the missing endocrine clinic appointment and secondly an offer to review what has happened with the Head of Nursing for Neurology (?). Both of these are welcome and I reserve the right to make a formal complaint in due course – I understand that this will trigger a detailed review of what happened (or not) when and a detailed formal response.

My concern all along has been to improve processes, not just to complain, although I am beginning to wonder if a formal complaint might add to the weight of improvement effort already underway. I don’t in any way wish to devalue those efforts, for they do seem to be taking my concerns seriously, but maybe just maybe a formal detailed investigation might add something. I will wait to see.

2 responses to ““Your call is important to us…” Really?

  1. hi Geoff, hope the recovery is going well, even if the admin is not. Strange how different things are done in different areas. In my case the operation in Southampton, and the Endcrinologist in Portsmouth. When I was discharged I was given the discharge letter but told in no uncertain terms, although they do send a copy to my GP, I was to take the letter into the surgery myself and get it scanned onto my record and then make an appointment. Which I did and it all worked fine…..perhaps you’d argue I shouldn’t have to do that in modern technology times, but the message was clear and it worked, so I was happy with that.

    My Endocrinologist told me as soon as I was out of hospital to email him to make an appointment. I did this and was seen within the week. My Endo is very unusual in that you can email him directly and get a swift response – 3 years on, I still occasionally email him with the odd question, he always replies within 24 hours. He keeps in very close contact with the neuro-surgeon in Southampton and the hold joint clinics too.

    From your previous blog, the only one I can help with is MRI with “Gad”, or Gadolinium. It is a contrast agent they inject you with during the MRI and helps them know whether they have got all the tumour or not. Essentially the put a cannula in you before they scan, do a couple of scans without the die, then pop you out and inject the substance. You’ve had an MRI before, so possibly you’ve already experienced this?

    Anyway, good luck for continued recovery. Cheers, Carl.

  2. Thanks Carl and so good to hear that you managed to find a way through the system. If only I could email my endocrinologist!
    The latest is that I now have a series of appointments but in the wrong order – the endo review is scheduled BEFORE the bloods, glucagon stimulation and Goldman…aarrrgggghhhhh! Back to the telephones, but I really should not have to do this and a less active patient could end up in trouble and/or wasting their and NHS time and money.

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