"Very different experiences at Lion Health and West Midlands Hospital"

About: Birmingham and the Black Country West Midlands Hospital

(as the patient),

I was referred to West Midlands hospital to see an Orthopaedic consultant, which was suggested by my physiotherapist and GP. I was suffering with episodes of back pain and tremors over a long period of time.

My GP at Lion Health is absolutely fantastic, he really cares about my symptoms and conditions. There were times when I developed new symptoms and all I have to do is contact the surgery and he will phone back to discuss them to see if I need a consultation or to wait for the referral appointment. The quality of care and the peace of mind it gave me was invaluable. My GP was able to arrange a referral appointment within a week and a half at West Midlands Hospital.

My first appointment was fine, around half an hour late but something that is not uncommon for hospital care. The consultant requested for an MRI scan to be carried out, which was also suggested by my physiotherapist and GP. This is where the quality of care declined.

There was no communication from West Midlands Hospital about when my scan was likely to be and I was given no information at the time of procedure or choices. One week after my consultation I contacted the hospital for an estimation of waiting time (knowing that diagnostic test waits should not exceed 6 weeks) and I needed to reschedule working hours. When I called, I was told that it's usually around 2-3 weeks but what they told me next was a bit of a shock. The X-ray department told me that they were unable to give me more of an idea because they 'prioritise their private patients'. I currently work in the health field in Birmingham and often work in partnership with Clinical Commissioning Groups around engagement and experience led commissioning. So I knew it was bad form for the hospital to be openly telling an NHS patient that they prioritise private patients for a service that has been commissioned by the NHS. This made me feel that my health and the diagnosis of my symptoms was of less importance and less of a priority to someone who pays for their healthcare.

After two calls and being told again on a separate occasion that they prioritise private patients, I was given an appointment 5 and half weeks after my first consultation. My follow up appointment was a shambles, the consultant was almost 45 minutes late because he couldn't find a car parking space (I overheard him telling the reception staff) and then in my appointment he spent the entire time discussing my results and symptoms to my grandmother, despite both our indications telling him it was me who received the care. It was suggested that I saw a Neurologist for a diagnosis, which is an entirely private service at that hospital. I was told he would communicate with my GP informing him to make a referral to an NHS hospital (hurrah!) and he would send me the same information.

This information did not reach me (I had to chase the hospital for this letter a month later) and was never received by my GP. I had to book an appointment with my GP and show him the letter I had chased and received, he confirmed that they had never seen it (at first he was confused why I was asking for a referral). This has meant that I have ended up having to wait nearly 3 months for an urgent referral to a neurology dept after my appointment at West Mids.

I feel lucky that the standard of care and support that I have received from my GP, who has been excellent, otherwise this experience would have been a lot more worrying and stressful whilst going through a diagnostic process for my condition.

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Response from Laura Broster, Head of Communications, NHS Dudley CCG

Thank you for raising your concerns and sharing your experience. I am delighted to hear that you had a positive experience at one of our member practices, Lion Health. I have shared your story with them.

I will also pass on your comments to our commissioners to ensure that these are picked up.

I hope you are feeling better soon.

Best wishes Laura

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