"Severe patient distress caused by inefficient..."

About: Royal Lancaster Infirmary

I was recently referred to a consultant neurologist due to experiencing balance problems. My appointment was Sat May 24th at RLI . I arrived half an hour early to be greeted at the door by a nurse. It transpired that the consultant was waiting as patients had failed to turn up. I was asked to confirm my name, dob and address. I was also asked about my medical history in detail as part of the assessment. For the purpose of this review, I wish to highlight that I suffer from GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) and have had panic attacks. After a thorough examination, the consultant confirmed there was evidence of a neurological problem and that further tests were required. He explained the possible causes and arranged for an MRI brain scan at RLI and an EMG test at Preston. I received a letter inviting me for the MRI scan on Sunday June 22nd. I attended the scan and found it extremely distressing. I hadn't been informed that I could have had sedation if anxious (GAD). A failure in communication caused me unnecessary distress. I guess that a high percentage of neurology patients worry that they have a brain tumour. I am one of those patients and have thought of nothing else since the referral. Yesterday, Tuesday June 24th I telephoned the consultant's secretary to enquire about scan results and when the EMG test would be taking place. I needed to know more regarding the test so to prepare and reduce my anxiety. I spoke to the consultant's secretary at Preston who passed me to a secretary based at RLI . I spoke to a person at RLI who informed me that the consultant would see me when he had results of both tests. I asked about the EMG test and she gave me the number of the Neurological Physiology department at Preston. I telephoned the receptionist at Preston and was asked to confirm my name, date of birth and address. She queried my address..........she had a previous address......the letter for my appointment had been sent to the wrong address and the appointment was today........1.00 pm! I rushed to prepare.....but what to prepare? I had no letter! Suffering palpitations and hyperventilation, after vomiting several times I jumped in the car and rushed to Preston. This was my worst nightmare......attending an appointment possibly being late and not knowing what to expect. Another failure in communication causing me more distress. I arrived on time. The test was very painful and distressing. I was upset and the doctor asked if I had brought someone with me. I hadn't had time to arrange that. I was vomiting afterwards and unable to drive home for several hours. Why was my letter sent to the wrong address? Why was my confidentiality breached in this way? I found out about yesterday's appointment by chance. Is this why patients don't turn up for appointments? What a waste of public money! This is totally unacceptable. I will be making a formal complaint. Patients come first? My health has suffered due to secretarial inefficiency.

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Response from Royal Preston Hospital

Thank you for your feedback. We're sorry to hear of your experience and can appreciate the distress and anxiety caused. Whilst there are processes in place to ensure that addresses are checked, it is evident that the appropriate checks were not made on this occasion. Please be assured that your comments have been shared with managers in the relevant department to ensure that all staff are reminded of the importance of ensuring that letters are sent to the correct address. If you would like to discuss the matter further with a member of the Customer Care team, you can do so by telephoning 01722 522521

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