"Clinics running late"

About: Derriford Hospital / Colorectal surgery Derriford Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as the patient),

This week my husband attended an orthopaedic outpatient appointment at Derriford Hospital scheduled for 15.10. It was on time when we arrived at 15.00 but suddenly became late and he was eventually seen at 16.05 - almost an hour late. We have an hour's journey to and from the hospital so the total time taken was the entire afternoon, which as he is self employed means he has to make the time up later.

The following day I had an appointment with the Colorectal Endoscopy Unit at 16.00. On arrival I was not informed of any delay. At 17.00 I asked if I was ever going to be seen and was told it was a busy clinic and they were running late. I was finally seen at 17.30. An hour and a half wait is not acceptable in my opinion. It meant I eventually got home at 19.00 having left at 14.45 in order to find a parking space (another issue that needs addressing).

Although the staff are always kind, courteous and apologetic and it clearly is not their fault, something is going wrong with admin that these clinics always run so late. These are not isolated incidents and we have had many experiences of late running in the past 6 years that we have been regular patients.

Something needs to be done to sort this out. Clearly too many patients are being booked in at the same time or appointments are taking longer than allowed for. I know the NHS does a wonderful job with poor resources and not enough staff but this must change. I would happily pay more tax if this would help improve the system.

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Response from Genny Turner, Senior Quality Facilitator, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Dear JeanGenie

I am very sorry to hear that you have had such lengthy waiting times for your appointments.

I can assure you that I will forward your feedback to the Orthopaedics and Colorectal departments ensuring they are aware of these issues.

On occasion during clinic times a consultant may be called to an emergency on a ward or in theatre where one of his patients needs urgent attention. This of course can delay the progress of the clinic if there is no other suitable doctor available to continue seeing clinic patients at short notice. Most often another doctor is called to cover clinic but that does take a little while to arrange. I hope this gives you some insight into the reasons for delay in being seen sometimes.

Thank you for taking the time to post your comments on Patient Opinion.

Best wishes


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Update posted by JeanGenie (the patient)

As far as I am aware the consultant being called away has never been the issue; simply that the clinic is "busy" and some appointments seem to take much longer than others depending on patient's needs. Obviously some people need more time and rightly so; the current time slot of 10 minutes in some cases is just not long enough in my opinion.

Response from Genny Turner, Senior Quality Facilitator, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Firstly, thank for taking the time out to feedback to us. We cannot continue to improve our services if we don’t know there is a problem.

Unfortunately this is a historical problem and one very difficult to correct. It is impossible to determine whether a patient will need half an hour for an appointment or 10 minutes. There is a national standard of what length appointments should be I believe and most clinic profiles are guided by these. Some departments and particular consultants do adjust the time according to their patient group if they feel it’s necessary. It is a very difficult to predict and unfortunately this patient has fallen foul to clinic over-runs very closely together. I can only apologise for this. The one thing I can take from this is to make sure the reception staff in Endoscopy are keeping the patients informed of any delays.

Best Wishes


Amanda Tamblin

Support Manager

Gastro/Nephrology/Hepatology & Endoscopy

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