"Long process obtaining physio appointment"

About: North Cotswolds Hospital

(as the patient),

Dr. Morton, of Whitehouse Surgery, Moreton in Marsh, diagnosed a problem with my back and gave me a telephone number to ring North Cotswold Hospital, Physio Department.

I did this but was told I would have to make an appointment electronically and that the waiting list would be 6 weeks. They emailed to me the form and it took me 20 minutes to fill it in, (I am 73 years of age).

This whole system is a complete nonsense and I still don't have an appointment. I spent 5 minutes on a phone call to the Physio Department; they spent 5 minutes emailing me with the form; I spent 20 minutes filling it in and then they will presumably email me back with an appointment, another 5 minutes, which I may or may not be able to attend, so then I have to email back saying I can/cannot make the appointment, another 5 minutes. They then send me another appointment etc. , etc. , etc. !

Whereas, if I had telephoned for an appointment as was the old system, the Physio Department could have given me a suitable date there and then - time taken 5 minutes maximum on both sides.

With respect, who on earth dreamed up this system? Where does the patient come into this badly thought out system? Also, do you consider a 6 weeks waiting time acceptable when a patient is in a great deal of pain? When the Physio Department asked me whether I had an e.mail address I should have lied and said, "NO". Then they would have given me an appointment there and then. I'll know better next time.

I shall be interested to have your views. I can't see that it's saving time/costs on either side.

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Response from North Cotswolds Hospital

Thank you for your comments regarding the new system of requesting an appointment for Adult Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy. From March 2014 our clinical records became electronic and you have noted that we now offer an online self-referral. Where patients have an email address and when patients are happy to complete themselves we send out an electronic self-referral form. This can then be filled out at their convenience. If patients prefer our Admin and Clerical staff to ask those questions over the phone or if they do not have email then we continue to complete this form. Since we have introduced this we have found that we have a greater level of accuracy in terms of data entry if patients fill in their personal information themselves. We have had fewer incidents of mistaken contact details as a result and the response has been very positive. Completing an electronic self-referral form gives many people the opportunity to consider the issues that their condition is giving them which in turn helps the Physiotherapist address their particular concerns. All referrals are clinically triaged in order that we ensure we get the right clinician with the right skill set to the right patient. Again this helps the service operate more effectively. The waiting time of 6 weeks that you referred to reflects the current demand for services and does not have any correlation with the new system of referral. If anything we have found that the new system has helped reduce the number of failed to attend appointments therefore increasing the overall efficiency and performance of the service. In the North Cotswolds there are currently some vacant hours which we are trying to recruit into, this is contributing to the waiting time that you refer to. When you receive the appointment letter comes the telephone number of the department is included so that any appointment offer which is inconvenient can be changed. This does not have to happen by email. I do hope that goes some way to explaining the new system, how it is linked to the recent technological developments and how we see in the widest context the benefits for patient care. Best wishes The team at Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust

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