About: NHS Southport and Formby CCG Southport General Infirmary / Ear, Nose and Throat

(as the patient),

I saw my GP at in mid June with ear problems. Left ear blocked, right rear perforated and leaking. This problem had existed for ten days while I was travelling in the USA where I took pain killers and topical antibiotics. The GP gave me a 7 days course of antibiotics to help heal the perforation. She also told me that I would need to visit an ENT clinic to have my ears cleaned as they were not allowed to do it any more.

She told me that I would need an appointment and that she would do it. In late June I received a letter (dated 2 days before) giving me details on how to make an appointment using Choose and Book. When I tried to use the system, I got the response that there were no appointments available at Southport (my local hospital). I then contacted 0345 60 88 88 8 and the gentleman was very helpful but to no affect as he couldn't get an appointment either. He said, "It's not that there are no appointments, just that they haven't released any to us. "

This is a hopeless approach to providing a service. First and foremost, why did the GP not make the appointment or print the letter for me while I was at the clinic so that I could make the appointment rather than wait another eight days? Why is there no local number to contact the Trust in order to make an appointment? Now I have to wait for up to 10 more days before the Trust needs to contact me to make the appointment and then who knows how long before I can be seen.

There are several things wrong here that need to be fixed. Choose and Book is good but is being corrupted by Trusts not playing the game. GP's are unable to get their patients appointments in this system. Why are GP's not allowed to do simple ENT ear cleaning? I know from my past experience that using GP nursing staff can cause problems. (My ear was perforated many years ago by a nurse using a pressure cleaner in an ear where the blockage had not been softened). However surely GP's or nurses properly trained in ENT can do it at the surgery?

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Response from Tony Ellis, Marketing and communications manager, Marketing and Communications, Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust

Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your experience.

We were pleased to hear that you wanted to support your local health services at Southport and Formby District General Hospital. Unfortunately, from time to time, demand for our services outstrips supply and we are unable to offer slots on Choose and Book, as appears to have happened in this case.

One of the purposes of Choose and Book is to give patients the choice of another healthcare provider who may be able to offer the required service sooner or at a more convenient time. I am sorry this did not appear to work for you on this occasion.

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