"Good medical care but poor admin at the Royal Free A&E"

About: Royal Free Hospital / Accident and emergency Royal Free Hospital / General surgery

(as the patient),

I went to the Royal Free A&E department as I thought I had a serious illness. The staff were great and dealt with me really quickly. The tests were inconclusive so they told me to go home and come back if it got worse.

The next day I went to my GP, who was great and very helpful. She referred me for a scan - but when I got to the EGU for the scan they had no record of my referral. I explained that my GP had called ahead, and they said that quite often no one passes on the message when there is an emergency referral. Luckily they were able to see me. The staff were very kind and did a thorough job - they referred me back to A&E saying I would need to see a surgeon and that they would let them know to expect me.

Once in A&E I registered with a surly receptionist and was seen by triage fairly quickly. The triage nurse said he would let the surgeons know I was there and then tell me if there was a wait. He said he would not come back out if I was to be seen quickly.

After 90 minutes the nurse still had not come out and I noticed that a different triage nurse was now on shift. I went to the surly receptionist and explained the situation and was told that the surgeons are very busy and to sit back down and wait.

After a further half an hour the surly receptionist went off shift and I explained the situation to the new receptionist who told me to grab the triage nurse when he next appeared. I did so, and he said that he knew for a fact that the surgeons were not expecting anyone but that he would let them know I was waiting.

Eventually an assistant surgeon came down and saw me, before bringing the surgeon himself along. He was very nice and good at explaining things. He asked me for my records, which I didn't have because the EGU said they would send them along when they referred me. No one could find the records and the surgeon told me to always take a copy of my records because they usually get lost between departments.

I was finally able to go home, feeling like I'd had a very mixed experience - on one hand the medical staff were absolutely lovely and I had full confidence in them. However the administrative staff and inter-departmental bureaucratic processes were a shambles and led to an unnecessarily long and distressing experience.

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