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"Frustrating experience with ultrasound appointments"

About: East Surrey Hospital / Maternity East Surrey Hospital / Radiology

(as the patient),

I moved to the Surrey area in December 2021 when I was 12 weeks pregnant therefore had to move my maternity care from Kingston to East Surrey Hospital. Having already experienced outstanding service from Kingston Hospital I was curios to understand how East Surrey compared.  

On initial account it was good and most the staff seemed nice... except my appointments became a bit of an issue when it was connected to the ultra-sound department. In January 2022 when I was 19+wks my local midwife said I should be booked in for serial growth scan as my first child was very small, 6th centile.   She said she would book these in with the East Surrey ultrasound department and I need to keep an eye out for the appointment letters. A week later I had another appointment with a midwife, and I flagged I had not received my ultrasound appointment so she said she would follow it up. Unfortunately, the systems aren’t connected so she couldn’t see if anything had been booked in.

In February I had still not received an appointment so I called the ultrasound department who said nothing had been requested and I needed to speak to the midwife / consultant again. I followed up with a call to the community midwife team who said they would follow it up and sort it out for me. At the end of March I had an appointment for an OGTT at East Surrey and spoke to the reception team about my problem with the ultra-sound appointments. They said they would contact them to get them booked in and letters will be sent. Then in April, when I was 30+, I had my consultant appointment, linked to thyroid, and I flagged again about my serial growth scans. The consultant confirmed I should be having these, and he would sort it out. In no time I received an appointment for my 31+4w scan which I managed to attend.

I then received appointment letters and text messages for my consultant appointment. I attended my consultant appointment at the end of April only to be told that I was due to have had an ultrasound earlier that day.  I had not received any correspondence about this appointment . The consultant said he would write a note on the system as I should be having scans every 3 weeks and asked me to nip down to see if the ultrasound team could squeeze me in.

Unfortunately, they were fully booked so I was unable to have my scan. When I tried to explain to the office staff about me not receiving any correspondence, I found them very dismissive. When I asked when I could book another scan in, they printed out an appointment letter and handed it to me without sharing the date and then turned their back.  The appointment was for the end of May. I explained that the consultant had put notes on my records and that I needed a scan sooner than the end of May. They cut me off through my explanation to say that they knew  there were notes and that they will have to speak to the consultant directly as there is no availability for me to have a scan as they are fully booked.

I questioned why I was getting text messages and letters for all my other appointments except ultrasound, and this keeps happening, but they were clearly not interested in helping me and said they would call me when they had time. There was no one in the queue behind me. Their attitude indicated to me that they were disgruntled and not willing to listen to patients. I felt like I was wasting their time and they appeared to have no interest in helping.

Most of the East Surrey departments in maternity seem to have happy and attentive staff and at the first ultra-sound I had at East Surrey I had a wonderful sonographer; however, I feel the office team need training when dealing with the public and scheduling/sending out appointments. Due to this lack of care and constant problems linked to my ultrasound appointments, a seed of doubt has been sewn about the level of care I will get when I go into labour. Perhaps I was just fortunate to have outstanding care at Kingston Hospital for start to finish and East Surrey are being let down by the ultra-sound office team.

Good learning is that the Kingston team has a summary list of appointments at the front of the maternity folder that they can add/cross out appointments dates and details depending on the individual needs. 



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