"Delayed in referral for Fractured Spine"

About: Worcestershire Royal Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as the patient),

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing this email as a formal complaint regarding my recent stay at & dealings with Worcester Royal Hospital.

I was brought to Worcester Royal on Saturday the 18th October after a fall off my horse resulting in severe back pain.

I was left by the paramedics in the corridor of A&E at around 4pm. I was eventually taken for an X-ray at around 7pm (during this time I was not checked on once nor was I offered any pain relief). At about 8pm I was visited by a doctor who informed me that the X-ray showed that I had a compression fracture in my spine (no explanation of where or what sort of fracture). The doctor said it was only minor and that I would be seeing an Orthopaedic surgeon very shortly and that I would be on my way home that evening. The doctor said he was going to get me some painkillers and was never seen again! At around 9. 30pm I was eventually moved from the corridor of A&E and into a cubicle. I was then visited by the Orthopaedic Surgeon who explained as minimally as possible that I had a compression fracture of the L1 & L2 vertebrae and that I would need to have an MRI scan to assess the severity and therefore would be staying over night. I was eventually moved to the Trauma ward at about 2am.

The next morning came and I saw no doctors and very little information was obtainable from the nurses. So I still had no idea what was going on or what to expect. At 3. 30pm I was taken down for an MRI scan by a porter. I was then taken back to the ward, still with no explanation of the situation.

On Monday morning ( 20th October) I was visited by Mr O’Dwyre who explained a little more about the injury and that they were having to liaise with the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham as they were not equipped to deal with spinal injuries. Eventually at around 7pm that evening I was visited by a junior doctor who told me that the ROH had recommended fitting a TLSO brace and doing another scan to ensure the fracture was stable with this as a support. The scan was done the following morning (21st October) and I was told that the ROH had confirmed they were happy with the fit of the brace and were happy for me to be discharged.

My discharge notes stated that I would be sent a follow up appointment for 4 weeks on from discharge at the ROH where they would do another MRI scan and assess how it was healing.

By the 4 th November I still had not heard from the ROH so had no appointment and felt I needed to investigate this.

I phoned the ROH on the 4th to ask whether they knew when this appointment was likely to be, only to be told that they had no record of any referral being sent over from Worcs Royal.

I then attempted to contact Mr O’Dwyre’s secretary several times that afternoon and despite leaving two messages heard nothing back from her. I then contacted her again on 5th November and eventually managed to speak with her. She assured me that because I had technically been a patient of the ROH she felt there was no need for a referral. I then contacted the ROH again and relayed this information to them. They were adamant that the did require a referral and gave me a fax number to give to Mr O’Dwyre’s secretary so that she could fax the referral over. I then contacted Mr O’Dwyre’s secretary again and relayed this telephone conversation to her. She told me she would send the fax over straight away.

I had still not heard anything from either hospital by the 7th November so decided I would contact Mr O’dwyre’s secretary again and make sure that it had been sent.

At this point, I was informed by Mr O’dwyre’s secretary that it was not the ROH I was referred to, it was infact Coventry and Warwickshire and indeed these hospitals that they had been liaising with the whole duration of my stay.

I am completely and utterly appalled that the consultants did not even know which other hospital they were liaising with over my potentially life changing injury! ! !

Things only got worse from here as when Mr O’Dwyres secretary informed me of this mix up she gave me the contact number for my new consultants secretary. I felt that given the number of mess up’s that had occurred this far, I would be proactive and ensure that she had received my referral and shockingly, she had not.

I then had to contact Mr O’dwyre’s secretary again (Mon 10th November) to get her to fax the referral through AGAIN!

Mr Dardis’ Secretary confirmed later that afternoon that she had received it and would be in touch regarding an appointment time.

I have now heard from Mr Dardis’ secretary and the earliest appointment she can offer me is 16th December 2014.

This is not 4 weeks after my discharge but actually 8.

Mr Dardis’ secretary has assured me that should an appointment be cancelled they will offer me the appointment, however I am not in any way satisfied with this outcome.

There is a reason that the follow up should have been 4 weeks after the discharge and I think the fact that due to the incompetence of the admin staff I am now going to be delayed for another 4 weeks with absolutely no idea of how my injury is healing, is absolutely disgraceful.

I’d be interested to hear what my rights are where this is concerned and how to ensure that some sort of action is taken.

There is a risk that my fracture is not healing correctly and without the appropriate follow up treatment and scans, we wont know, this could potentially lead to me needing surgery etc at a later stage and all because this hospitals management is diabolical.

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Response from Communications, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust

We're sorry to hear of your concerns. Please contact our patient services department on 0300 123 1733 or email patientservices.dept@worcsacute.nhs.uk so we can investigate this for you.