"I was seen on 5/1/2010 by rheumatologist ..."
About: Freeman Hospital Freeman Hospital Newcastle Upon Tyne NE7 7DN
Posted by Mrs Meadowcroft (as ),
What I liked
I was seen on 5/1/2010 by rheumatologist who assessed me thoroughly, treated me with respect, and organised immediate blood tests and x.rays. She thought it was very likely that I had psoriatic arthritis, but wanted to test me for rheumatoid arthritis as this was a possibility.
Medication was prescribed and I collected this from hospital pharmacy. A plan was made to start disease modifying medication once a definite diagnosis had been made. The consultant asked me to make follow up appointment for 6 weeks later, when she would be in a position to confirm the diagnosis and initiate the treatment plan.
Up until this point, I was completely satisfied with all aspects of my treatment.
What could be improved
The problems started when I went to the appointments desk and was told that the first "follow up" appointment available was over 15 weeks later. I stated that the doctor wanted to see me again in six weeks, but was told that there were no earlier appointments, The receptionist encouraged me to take this appointment because if I delayed, the waiting time would go up as more appointments were taken.
When I saw my G.P. he was unhappy with the amount of time I had to wait, given that the rheumatologist was planning to put me on disease modifying drugs. These drugs need to be started as soon as possible if destruction of joints is to be prevented - the first year of the disease causes the most damage to joints if left untreated. My GP wrote to the consultant requesting that I be seen sooner. The appointment was not brought forward and ten days before the existing appointment was due, it was cancelled by the hospital. The reason given was that "the clinic had been cancelled". The next appointment offered was for September 2010 - 34 weeks after I had seen the rheumatologist, and 28 weeks later than she had specified a follow up was necessary.
This eight month wait for follow up means that it is highly likely that my joints will be irreversibly damaged by the time I get seen again.
I find the waiting time unacceptable, and I feel very stressed by the length of time I have already waited for follow up. I am struggling to come to terms with the fact that I have a serious arthtitic condition and I am aware that any delay in receiving the treatment I need will have a detrimental and irreversible effect on my health, mobility and abiity to perform every day living tasks.