"Urgent referrals not passed on"

About: Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital / Ear, Nose and Throat William Harvey Hospital / Ear, Nose and Throat

(as a relative),

For the first time ever I wish to make a formal complaint about the service my husband received from the Rotary Suite ENT service at William Harvey Hospital.

You will see from my earlier post that my husband had a severe ear trauma resulting in him becoming deaf overnight. This was traumatic for him. His GP referred him to The emergency clinic at the Rotary Suite and on 30th April he was seen by a doctor there who said he would refer him to Audiology for a hearing test.

This referral was never passed to Audiology and it was only as a result of spending hours and hours on the phone, speaking to at least six different people trying to track down what had happened, discovering that the referral had never been passed on.

Eventually I was able to arrange a new appointment for a hearing test on 19th May at William Harvey.

On 19th May after having the hearing test, the doctor referred him to the audiology department at QEQM hospital for hearing aids. Apparently it normally takes about four weeks for an appointment to come through, but given the fact that my husband had been completely disorientated by the sudden hearing loss and the effect this was having on his life, the doctor said he would refer it to QEQM as an urgent case.

He waited, and waited and waited. He heard nothing from QEQM. Once again I faced the fruitless task of trying to find out what had happened to the referral. (There is no telephone number for audiology at QEQM on the website. ) I could only get through to an audio messaging service at William Harvey, whose answerphone message said to leave a message and someone would get back to us only if they needed to. I was shocked by the total disrespect of this message. I needed to speak to someone, but they would only respond if they needed to do so! No one responded to my call.

By this time my husband was in a terrible state. Unable to communicate, unable to participate in our business, isolated and by now, depressed. Eventually, I asked a member of my family who works at QEQM to try and find out when this appointment was likely to be. To my horror, once again the referral from William Harvey had not been passed to QEQM.

Fortunately Audio responded immediately to the situation and an appointment has now been offered at QEQM. However, this is only because a family member was able to speak directly to the staff there.

Ten weeks have gone by since the first consultation at the Rotary Suite. But for intervention he would still be waiting on an appointment that was never going to happen.

So, in conclusion, my complaint is twofold.

1. Firstly that two referrals were not passed on from The Rotary Suite staff to the appropriate services resulting in an unacceptable delay in service provision and considerable distress to my husband. I think this is shoddy, unprofessional and unacceptable, showing a distinct lack of customer/patient care.

The referral system from the Rotary Suite needs to be given a thorough overhaul. I am sure that my husband is not the first person to have had referrals go missing, nor will he be the last.

2. Secondly, the Kent Health Services website and main switchboard is totally inadequate in giving appropriate and relevant telephone numbers whereby patients/customers can phone the relevant departments for information. Even the staff gave incorrect internal telephone numbers. It is as if you really do not want us to be calling at all.

In my previous post I was assured that a leaflet with telephone numbers would be given to all users of the ENT service. At no time did we receive this.

This issue of inadequate contact information and switchboard staff who do not themselves know the appropriate numbers, affects all people who use the services in Kent and I would urge you to address this.

In any response, please do not come back to me to say that all of these issues are a result of budget constraints, as this is no excuse for poor patient care.

Professionalism needs to be improved.

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Response from Helen O'Keefe, Acting Deputy Chief Nurse and Deputy Director of Quality, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for taking the time to feed back to us, as this helps us improve our service. I am sorry that your experience has fallen short of what we would expect for our patients. We are currently embedding a new telephone system which should result in improvements over time.

Please would you contact our Patient Experience team in order that we can explore what happened regarding your referral.


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