"Dermatology appointment - mission impossible!"

About: St Mary's Hospital / Dermatology

(as the patient),

A letter arrived in December last year stating I should contact the department within 7 working days to make an appointment. I tried on 7 or 8 occasions to do this but no one ever answered the phone. Various messages were on the answer phone, the most common one stated that I was ringing out of hours even though I believe this was not so.

I logged 5 of the calls, exact times etc. which were all well within what I believed to be working hours. A few days later I also tried via the main switchboard and was told that the department was on a training morning and could be contacted after 1300 hours [didn't happen, no one there then either].

Given that the letter reached me on the 20th, seven days could not exist in which I could make the appointment but I think it was reasonable to expect that I would be able to do this on the same day or the next. I think if the dermatology department been doing what they should have been this would have been no problem.

As things stand my GP has had to repeat her efforts on my behalf and I've incurred a further wait for my appointment [fortunately not urgent].

My suggestions to improve the service:

1] Improve attendance at work by efficient HR management.

2] Give the public truthful messages when they can't get through - people can understand if you have no staff, but not being told they're out of hours when their watches say otherwise.

3] Avoid telling patients about training days so near peak periods.

I would like to have some feedback if possible as I feel I may follow the matter more formally, so I hope to be treated less cavalierly from now on.

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