"Having your eyesight checked"

About: Royal Cornwall Hospital (Treliske) / Ophthalmology

(as the patient),

On a recent Saturday morning I attended an appointment at the Ophthalmology Department. My initial experience was rather pleasant as the waiting area was clean, tidy and reasonably empty; from that point forward it was downhill all the way.

I was initially asked to complete a rudimentary eye test that involved me sitting in a chair reading a chart on the wall. No notes were taken and I was told, by the nurse, that without my glasses I cannot read a book from 20 feet away but I knew that already as that is why I wear them. I was then directed to turn right and right again and wait in the corridor. The last time I received treatment in a corridor was in a first aid post in Tanzania.

Here's the sting in the tail - the waiting room, with magazines, fresh paint, tables, chairs and even some flowers was empty because the corridor was full, to it's rafters. Although a gentleman went for his appointment and I did snaffle his vacant seat, one has to be quick in Ophthalmology.

Upon asking the person next to me I was informed they had been waiting 45 minutes and then a nurse shouted my name. As I had held up my hand she approached me with a tissue which, being the nosey person that I am, I asked of its purpose. I was asked to take off my glasses to be given eye drops. I wondered to myself at this point whatever happened to saying please. I was then found a room and chairs were moved, curtains thrown back. However, my major concern was that despite having moved chairs, opened doors, adjusted the curtains, all areas of high contact, I did not see the nurse make any attempt to wash her hands and was going to administer eye drops to the only pair of eyes I had. I asked, politely, and the chore was done.

I was then returned to the rather delightful corridor, waiting room still empty, and sat for another 30 minutes, some 45 minutes after my arrival in Ophthalmology. I was however able to fill my time reading a multitude of little signs that warned us all to wash our hands. The last time I received treatment in a corridor was in a first aid post in Tanzania.

However, enough was enough and so I then approached the reception desk to inform them that, as I was concerned with the time taken to see me, in accordance with the numerous signs telling me to do the same as it says to please see a member of staff if you are concerned about your waiting time. Bless, the receptionist then offered to see where I was on the list but it was too late as I was leaving and I was saddened and lighter in the pocket by 2 quid (the cost of up to 2 hours in the car park)

I think that the problem is too many patients being brought into contact with too few ophthalmologists. I think they need to focus on that issue and then they might be able to raise the level of provision and offer some advice, help, direction, hygiene, privacy, respect, understanding, waiting area and lastly care.

And if, in the fullness of time, all should fail please call and I will forward the number of the first aid post in Tanzania.

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