"Appointments process"

About: Huddersfield Royal Infirmary

My three year old has arthritis and as a result has to have regular eye checks at the eye clinic at HRI. In September they found a problem and we were told that if it was not treated ASAP it could result in the loss of sight. As a result we have to make regular visits to the consultant. Each time we are asked to make an appointment to come back in x amount of weeks. We go to the desk and ask about the appointment and are told they will need to write to us (why??) Then the appointment comes and on at least two occasions it has been for a date way after the timeframe we have been told to come back within. Or, like this week, we are sent a letter asking us to call the hospital appointments line to make an appointment. This is a month after the initial visit, what an absolute waste of time. Of course when I call they tell me the earliest appointment is two months after we are told to go back and all they can do is put me on a waiting list. So I have two major issues here. Firstly we are told our daughter could go blind (thankfully the condition has improved and that outcome is now unlikely), worrying for any parent. But we can't get back to see the consultant when we are told to which also means we can't get access to the prescriptions she needs because communications between hospital and GP are poor and unclear. Secondly the appointments system is totally inefficient and must cause the trust a ridiculous amount of unnecessary work. Would it not be better for the doctor or consultant to make the appointment whilst the patient is with them via a live and on-line appointments system? That way an appointment that suits everybody can be agreed in a couple of minutes. I imagine this type of admin work is not seen as within the remit of the doctor but it would take such little time and in my case I am going to now have to track down her PA who will then have to speak to the consultant anyway to get us back when needed. Even if the doctor cannot do the appointment they should be able to do it at the desk whilst you are still there to stop unnecessary letters, phone calls and swapping appointments. Surely you could save money on paper and postage too. On a slightly separate note the experience we have had with another doctor in the children's ward at Halifax has been much better, could not fault it. However it would seem communication between the two could be improved.

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Response from Huddersfield Royal Infirmary

We are sorry to hear of your disappointing experience of our services, and hope you have now successfully arranged a more suitably timed appointment. Unfortunately, Ophthalmology is a very busy service and is facing a number of challenges at the moment and due to various factors we have moved away from follow up appointments more than six weeks in advance, to reduce the number of postponements and consequent frustration to our patients. We have recently introduced partial booking for follow up appointments where patients are added to a waiting list and automatically invited to contact the hospital to book a mutually convenient appointment, near the appointment due date. This system is working well in most specialities, however, unfortunately in Ophthalmology due to consultant vacancies and increased demand, the appointment date has occasionally been delayed. Plans are in place to increase clinical cover whilst recruiting to the vacancies, and appointment capacity is under review to ensure there is sufficient to meed demand. If you are still having problems, then please do contact our Patient Advice and Complaints Team on 0800 013 0018, or 01484 342825, or by email to patientadvice@cht.nhs.uk where our staff will be pleased to help. Thank you for taking the time to provide your comments, all such feedback is extremely valuable to us.

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