"NHS targets don't necessarily work"

About: Central Lancashire PCT

(as the patient),

I had been a patient of a consultant for 5 years, but after my last visit I was discharged as I was told it is now easy to arrange to see him. A few weeks later, owing to a rapid deterioration in my condition, I needed to see him urgently! I went to my GP, no easy task, and was referred immediately that day. A few weeks later, I was contacted by phone by the hospital and offered just one appointment, which was unsuitable. I was told I would have to go back to my GP to get re-referred, because I would not fit in the time scale! My condition had not improved nor had it changed.

I contacted my GP’s surgery who were mystified. They re-sent my original referral. I was contacted soon after, again by phone, but because I work abroad we were unable to find another mutually suitable date, and I was informed it had to be within a 5 week time span. It was apparent that I may never actually get to see a consultant!

I received no further contact from the hospital, and as a result I rang from France. I tried several times to be put through to the appointment department myself, but that was impossible, as the phone was never answered. Eventually I got to speak to a manager and it appears I don't fit in the box because I travel so much! When I am next in the UK, I have to ring to try and find a way through this mess without breaching the "target"! Not was easy to see a consultant as it appears, especially if you’re not in the right box!

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Response from Julie-Ann Bowden, Clinical Quality and Assurance Manager, NHS Central Lancashire

Dear Dijay, I am sorry to hear of the problems you have experienced in trying to secure a convenient date for your hospital appointment. If your preferred time and date is not available, you should be offered alternatives by the hospital. It appears that, in your case, you have been unable to secure a date that fits in with your timetable. It is important that your appointment is convenient to you and also that it fits in with the clinic timetable that the hospital runs. I do not know what speciality you have been referred to or which hospital, but the option is available to you to choose an alternative provider. This means that potentially you can choose another hospital to go to. There is more information about this on the NHS Choices website. The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) provided by NHS Central Lancashire will be able to provide further guidance to you. You can contact them by calling 0800 032 24 24. You can also email them.
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