"Nobody told me what was going to happen next and I just feel forgotten"

About: Devon Referral Support Services Torbay Hospital / General medicine

(as the patient),

I’ve been having a sleep problem, and was given an appointment at the Sleep Clinic at Torbay Hospital. However, before my appointment date I didn’t receive a letter with any details or information. I didn’t know who I was going to see, where the clinic was or details of the treatment I’d have.

I attended the clinic and was seen to, but I was just given an oxy meter and sent away and told to wear it overnight. I was given no additional advice or information.

I’m still confused about the appointment and trying to find out what has happened to my referral. Usually I’d be able to see a named specialist, but I felt like I wasn’t seen properly or provided with any useful advice. I even tried phoning the automated service at Torbay Hospital – I asked for the Sleep Clinic but was transferred to the Sweet Shop! As far as I’m aware, this happens quite often.

When speaking to the hospital I asked about my referral, and I was told it was with the referral service.

I feel like a tennis ball, being batted backwards and forwards. I’m concerned my sleep problems are a result of an illness I had over Christmas. It’s really disturbing falling asleep suddenly, sometimes whilst I have food in my mouth. Nobody told me what was going to happen next and I just feel forgotten. I expected to at least see a neurologist or have a brain scan. Now I just need to wait for the results of the oxy meter, but I’m not sure how long it will take and this has left me feeling anxious.

Why wasn’t I given a letter and a proper appointment?

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Response from PALS Dept, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust

Dear Patient,

We are very sorry to hear about your experience and that the standard of your care fell below that which we strive to provide. We would like the opportunity to discuss your experience with you and try our best to resolve it.

If you are happy to talk to us about this, please contact our Patient Advice & Liaison Service (PALS) so they can look into your situation in more detail.

A PALS Officer is available in person, Monday to Friday, between 10.00am and 2.00pm. You can contact them by calling 01803 655838 or on our 24 hour freephone number 0800 02 82 037. If you get through to the voicemail service please leave your contact details and you will receive a call back within two working days. PALS can also be contacted by Text Phone on 01803 654742, by FAX on 01803 617162, or via email to sdhc@nhs.net (your email will go direct to our PALS Service).

We look forward to hearing from you so that we can address the issues you have raised.

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Update posted by Cadet701 (the patient)

Awaiting response from PALS.

Response from Devon Referral Support Services

Dear ‘Cadet702’,

I am sorry that you are not happy with the service you have received so far.

I can see that you are in the process of contacting Torbay’s PALS department and I think that they are the best placed team to look into this for you. From what you have said I’m afraid that I don’t think that DRSS can help with your query but I’m sure that PALS will contact us to double check once you have spoken to them, and once we have your details we will be more than happy to look up your referral and provide more information.

The reason I don’t think we can help is that we don’t send out the appointment details; we book them online and the hospital in question sends out the confirmation and any relevant instructions. Also, once we have booked the appointment, that is generally the end of our involvement in your care. The department you have been referred to is then in charge of arranging any subsequent appointments or returning you to the care of your GP.

Having said all that, we are more than happy to investigate further if you would like so please feel free to contact us directly and we will do what we can. I am on leave after today until Tuesday 7th so I’ll give you my colleague’s number which is 01626 883709 and her name is Tracy Brown.

I wish you all the best for the remainder of your care.

Susan Pearce

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Update posted by Cadet701 (the patient)

My issues have been resolved with help from PALS and GPs help.

I have received an explanation of what is happening with my future care and have an appointment next week as a result of contacting the patient opinion site. Thank you Patient Opinion for all your help.

Cadet 701.