"Waiting times in fracture clinic: why are they historically so long, and why is this accepted practice?"

About: East Surrey Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as a parent/guardian),

This is based on our experience over one in-patient episode and three follow-up appointments. These comments summarise our overall experience. For two appointments we waited in excess of two hours, on the appointment in mid October we waited over three hours. I do not understand why, with an 0850hrs appointment, we were not seen until 11. 15, and for an 0910 appointment, we were not seen until 12. 15. The whole system appears to be grossly inefficient.

I knew my son needed xray on both occasions. So why did we have to wait over an hour each time to be sent to xray? This then incurred yet more waiting in the xray department, followed by more waiting back in clinic. I do not think this is acceptable.

My son lost two full mornings of school and had to sit exams on a different date to his classmates. Is the delay caused by Doctors not starting clinic on time or due to ward commitments? If this is the case, then surely the system needs to be overhauled? Communication was poor on all occasions. In fact the OPD Sister appeared to actively hide around a corner and she seemingly made no attempt to inform a packed waiting room of the waiting time. It was merely surreptitiously added to a whiteboard.

I have to praise the male orthopaedic technician who removed the cast the first time. He was kind and had enough sense to call a doctor when it was clinically obvious that my son's arm needed re-casting immediately, and that he could not be sent to xray with no cast. Conversely the technician today seemed overtly rude and unhelpful. She told me to remove the coban decorative bandage and when I asked for a pair of scissors told me she did not have any. She rolled her eyes, tutted and then proceeded to cut the covering off with scissors. The Consultant today was most polite and explained everything in detail to us (presumably following my husbands' recent telephone call to his secretary).

However, on the previous visit, information was only forthcoming when I asked for it, and when I asked to see the xray, he had to take me to another room and login to the computer. So I am not convinced that he had even looked at the xray prior to seeing us. After our two and a quarter hour wait on the first follow-up appointment we saw the Consultant for only 2 minutes, then told to come back the following week.

Overall, not an impressive experience at all. Finally, may I express extreme disappointment with the PALS system, which, having listened to my concerns after two appointments has failed to deliver any kind of response at all, let alone a satisfactory one. How can they be independent when they are employed by Trusts?

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Response from Ian Mackenzie, Director of Information and Facilities, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

picture of Ian Mackenzie

Dear Scarlet Ranger

I'm really sorry that you have had such a poor experience in the fracture clinic at East Surrey Hospital. If you could e-mail me directly to ian.mackenzie@sash.nhs.uk I will ensure that the matters you raised are looked into and responded to.



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