"Terrible communication and administration"

About: St Peter's Hospital / Physiotherapy Surrey and Sussex

(as the patient),

My GP has sent 2 referral letters to this department. One specifically requesting a 1 to 1 appointment due to the nature of my situation. I received a letter in May inviting me to a group appointment, which I declined and left 3 voice mail messages to call me back. As the phones are never answered I had no option but to leave messages.

3 weeks ago I had still heard nothing so my GP chased again. Today I became fed up and rang the department to get voice mail again. So I complained and I actually managed to speak with someone. I was told they had 1 letter from my GP and had sent me a letter (which they had and I had been calling and leaving messages). They have now discharged me and won't help more as they only offer group appointments, even though I have a very specific request from my GP.

It is shameful that they won't return your calls, ignore a GPs request, discharge you with no communications and refuse to engage in finding the right treatment for you. My GP offers to complain as well, but this will get you nowhere with such a seemingly dysfunctional hospital. I am lucky to have a supportive GP ergo had a patients best interests in hand and is now referring me to an alternative provider. Such a shame as this is my local hospital, but I can not be offered any care, or communication.

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Response from Ashford and St. Peter's Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

We apologise for the difficulty accessing our service. We have been experiencing a shortage of reception staff, which may have contributed to the difficulty you had in reaching us on the phone. We have now taken a number of actions to address this, including recruitment of more staff and the introduction of self check-in machines to free up the time of staff dealing with phone calls.

With regards to requests for 1:1 sessions from the GP, we are sorry if there was any misunderstanding of what we offer. There are some specialities where a group session is offered initially. We receive lots of positive feedback regarding our group education sessions, where patients feel reassured that they are not the only person dealing with a particular condition and can gain and share information in a relaxed and friendly environment. Should someone be reluctant to attend we would respect their wishes and the physiotherapist would discuss their treatment options over the phone at the earliest opportunity.

It seems that unfortunately there was a communication breakdown in this respect - with referral information not received and /or acted upon correctly. I am sorry about this and appreciate it has made you feel frustrated and ignored, which is a real shame.

We do take your feedback seriously and would like to have the opportunity to try and improve the elements of our service you mention. We would also welcome the chance to discuss your experience fully so we can address specific issues and would ask you to call Julie Callin, Head of Therapies on 01932 722299.

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