"Clinical decisions of GP changed by Choose & Book staff"

About: East Sussex Downs and Weald PCT Eastbourne District General Hospital

(as the patient),

I have a long term rare condition and recently my GP wrote a letter referring me to a specific orthopaedic consultant described as specialist in the problem I have - through Choose & Book.

When the appointment notification arrived it was with a different consultant. I enquired about this and was told that my GP had addressed the letter "Dear Colleague" and not specified a particular member of staff. As I had sat with them while they made the referral I knew this to be untrue.

Eventually, after being repeatedly told that my GP had not specified a particular consultant it was admitted that the referral had been to the specialist consultant but that it is standard practice to allocate patients evenly to the consultants available to keep patient waiting times down.

Eventually it was admitted that there had been an error but that NHS procedures would not allow any change. I am advised that the only remedy I have is to see the consultant allocated and then go back to my GP to request a referral for a second opinion.

This means that I have increased and painful waiting time, I must make up two GP appointments when one should have been sufficient, my GP has to duplicate their work, and I have to attend two orthopedic clinics instead of one.

My questions are -

• Why was clinical decision of my GP ignored by Choose & Book Staff at the Eastbourne District General Hospital.?

• Does the PCT consider that the additional waiting time, staff time and administration caused provides good patient experience and best value?

• Why is the appointment system called Choose & Book when from my experience it is the local admin staff that make the choice?

• Why can East Sussex Downs & Weald not correct the error and why did the staff I dealt with to feel that they must cover up this mistake by lying to me?

• Why are government policies for the NHS treatment of people with long term conditions not applied to me?

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