"Another tedious appointment at the Eye Clinic"

About: Salisbury District Hospital

I attended the eye clinic with my wife recently and again we (and a number of others) were subjected to over an hour’s wait to be seen by a doctor.

We arrived at 11.10 am and registered, very pleasant reception staff with the usual questions.

At 11.25 called in for vision assessment, 11.35 finished vision assessment. (10 mins)

At 11.42 called for retina scan, 11.54 finished retina scan. (12 mins)

11.54 began waiting to see a doctor, 13.10 seen by ?an orthoptist, (13.26 finished consultation (12 mins)

13.31 left the department.

It appears that the flow of patients is not managed in the best way. From observations of this visit and from many previous visits it is clear that almost all the patients are called in at the earliest opportunity in the morning to suit the speed of the nursing staff processing them. There seemed to be no further booked appointments after our arrival at 11.10. There were a few other arrivals but they appeared to be emergencies. By 11.55 all the vision assessments and retinal scans appeared to have been done and there now followed an hour of watching nursing staff trying to look occupied but sadly failing. (It is surprising what can be deduced by sitting quietly in a waiting area.) I suspect they would have preferred to be doing something meaningful but it had all been done. An important point is that for an hour they were there available to do assessments if patients had been called in later – thus avoiding a long wait at the medical ‘pinch point’.

Making people waste their time involuntarily and increasing parking charges by extending the appointment time is not right. I suggest a deep review of the system is undertaken to ensure that patients are called at a time when their wait is minimised and the occupation of the nursing staff is optimised. Put simply, it takes the nursing staff 2 hours to assess the patients but it takes the medical staff over 3.5 hours to see the same patients.

Finally, I would like to compliment the staff on their kindness and courtesy. Each one individually was a delight to deal with. It is unfortunate that they are inured to such an inefficient system which they now take as normal, and are left with “we are so sorry, it is a very big clinic today”. There big clinics every time we attend but sadly they are not managed evenly.

I also had to witness a number of other people complaining about the length of wait, one of whom went to the reception desk. These people agreed among themselves that it was pointless to complain because nothing will change. I felt very sorry for the 91-year-old lady who waited placidly for almost two hours. That should not happen to anyone in a planned non-emergency out-patient department.

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Response from Salisbury District Hospital

Thank you for getting in touch.

We are sorry to hear about the long wait but glad that you found all the staff to be kind and courteous.

Ophthalmology clinics are very busy and include walk-in emergency patients, and booked patients can present with complex issues that take longer than anticipated. These factors can all contribute to delays in clinic, however, we understand that this does not change the frustration you feel at waiting so long.

Feedback such as yours is really helpful as we want to improve how we deliver services across the hospital, and your comment has been shared with the lead nurse for ophthalmology and the wider team.

If you’d like to discuss your experience further, please contact our customer care team; customercare@salisbury.nhs.uk or 0800 374208.

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