"Opthalmology - Visit 1-May 2008. ..."

About: Barnet Hospital

(as the patient),

What could be improved

Opthalmology - Visit 1-May 2008. 5 months after appointment, Consultant's letter sent to me but not to current GP who made referral. Visit 2 - Feb 2009. Consultant decides to send my notes to Surgeon @ Royal Free for opinion. One of his team makes mistake on my prescription. When I return to clinic to query it (after 1 hour wait in pharmacy), charge nurse incredibly rude and refuses to acknowledge possibility of mistake. A nurse, who was present at my consultation, overhears and intervenes to confirm mistake. Had I been younger (or older) I would not have been able to stand my ground and would have administered inappropriate treatment. Frightening. No letter or report from this visit sent to my GP who therefore cannot repeat prescription without phoning hospital to verify. No appointment sent until GP phones clinic to complain. Visit 3 - April. Sister consults my notes and asks how operation went. What operation? Asks me to read letters with blind eye. Asks me to remove contact lens from seeing eye -I don't wear one. New consultant (last one has left) can't find if any opinion has been received from surgeon. Can't find images from last consultation. Consultant sends me to make appointment with Surgeon @ Royal Free with notes marked "Urgent appt. ASAP". Promises letter of referral to be written that day with copies to me and to GP. At desk, given appointment for 2 months hence and told "that's the soonest, and you won't see him" (surgeon).

Today, receive a different appointment for R.Free surgeon for 2 days hence... that's only 4 weeks after last appointment. Confused tho' hopeful. Has he received letter of referral? I haven't, nor has my GP. Will he know why I'm there? What could have been improved? COMMUNICATION. ADMINISTRATION. How can medical teams function if letters can't even be typed for 5 months? How do teams function if urgent letters aren't sent? How do patients verify that what should have been done has been done. Suppose they operate on the wrong eye?

Anything else?

I can't find how to contact clinics on the Barnet website. I can't find how to complain on the Barnet website. I can't find how to get any help on the website. I do understand that the medical teams are incredibly overworked and the admin staff must be desperately short-staffed but this level of non-administration cannot, surely, be considered acceptable? I'm very frightened by my dealings with this department. And please could all involved remember that they are dealing with people whose illnesses/diseases/disabilities don't simply affect their bodies but their whole lives and the lives of their dependents. If letters, reports and notes were sent efficiently, on time, to the right place, what a huge difference it would make to all parties.

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Response from Barnet Hospital

As an organisation we are committed from learning from specific issues and from any mistakes we have made. Hearing about where we can do better helps us to pinpoint where exactly to make improvements to the service we provide. Although ophthalmology services are on the Barnet site they are managed by the Royal Free NHS Trust. Your comments have been forwarded to their PALS team.

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