"Delays due to poor appointments management "

About: East Surrey Hospital / Neurology

(as the patient),

Reference: Appointment at 11: 15, Chipstead Outpatients Department.

East Surrey Hospital, Redhill

Complaint – I had an 11: 15 appointment but was not seen until 13: 00. No one, except the consultant, seemed to care.

Had been phoned 1 week before to remind me of appointment, so out of courtesy I arrived for this appointment at 10: 55 and checked in at the reception desk. I was not told of any delay to my appointment. Not until I was sat in waiting room did I see a notice board saying the doctors schedule was running 1 hour late.

At 12: 10 a nurse came to apologise and say the delay was extended. Told me two people in queue in front of me. At 12: 20 nurse returned and changed notice board to say the clinic was running 1 hour 55 minutes late. Nurse told me that the doctor had been scheduled to work the night shift in the hospital so the outpatient clinic does not open until 10: 00. Despite this, the appointments department had given outpatients 09: 00 appointments.

I asked at reception why they could not telephone outpatients with later appointments to say they are running almost 2 hours late (after all they had sent reminder telephone calls earlier). I was told “they were too busy”, something which was not apparent whilst watching them. A delay warning could have saved expensive car parking fees and allowed me to do other things.

I had experienced a similar circumstance on my previous appointment (on April 30th) when my appointment was 90 minutes late. The reception at that time informed me that too many follow-up outpatients had been called in at the same time as new patients. The new patients were given priority to see the doctor. New patient arrivals’ files were repeatedly placed on top of the follow-up patients’ piles.

Sitting in the waiting room one is forced to watch a television screen proclaiming how good East Surrey hospital performance is. The money spent on these selective claims would be better redirected in improving the management of the appointment and attendance system. It’s obvious “A” does not talk to “B” to see if things are running smoothly and correctly. No one in administrative management seems to care.

I attend the clinic because of severe migraines which are brought on by stress. The management of the outpatients department just increases these stress levels.

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Response from Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Dear sir/madam

Thank you for taking the time to write to us about your recent experience in our outpatients department.

I would like to offer my most sincere apologies for the poor experience that you encountered. I am also sorry that you felt that the only person that cared about your situation was the consultant - this is certainly not the case though I understand the stress and anxiety that you encountered as a result in the delay of you being seen may have contributed to that perception.

We understand that the experience for some patients in our outpatients clinic is not as good as it should be and are working hard to put changes in place that improves that for as many patients as possible. I am currently overseeing a work stream that is looking at the environment, the systems and processes, the workforce and the communications of the outpatients department. I have established a project board who is overseeing the work and we are starting by trying to ensure that the growing demand for outpatient clinics is addressed by having enough outpatient slots for patients to be seen in. This is a key process which will support the improvement of how clinics work on a day to day basis.

We have also developed a customer care training programme for all of our key outpatient staff so that they feel confident in communicating effectively with everyone particularly when everything is not running as smoothly as it should be. This training is currently being delivered to staff working in outpatients.

We are also planning to establish a patient feedback group where we will be able to learn directly from patients who have had both good and bad experiences and make improvements that are important to patients. If you would like to be part of this group we would welcome your participation and input.

We would also be happy to reimburse for your parking fees and if you send me your contact details I will ensure they are forwarded to you.

Once again please accept our genuine apologies for what was clearly an unsatisfactory experience and please feel free to contact me direct to discuss any aspect in more detail.

Yours faithfully

Sue Jenkins

Director of Strategy


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