"Communication problems"

About: Southmead Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics

On the 26th Sept 2016 my wife had DIPJ fusions and flexor tenotomies to her right foot and all aspects on the day were dealt with in a first class manner. Paperwork received on the day referred to suture removal after two weeks but different aspects of that written and preprinted material communicated differing messages about where that was to be done. Hand written communication suggested we would receive a date and time to revisit Southmead for that part of the process but another document indicated that 'primary care' would be carrying out that stage. It wasn't until nearly two weeks later we discovered that 'primary care' actually meant our local surgery where we live. Prior to that chasing up Southmead both by Internet and the phone to a variety of numbers was a hopeless task with emails not replied to and phones not answered or classically 40 minute queues to get through. Yes our local surgery came to the rescue and took the stitches out bless 'em but of course they weren't to know as nor were we that the toes should then have been strapped and bandaged again to provide protection. The next visit should be 6 weeks after surgery and although three of those 6 weeks have passed we have not received any details of a date and time for that return visit to have the pin removed and all toes examined. It is post operative care/administration that appears to have failed here with my wife feeling that she was alone in the wilderness and not able to readily turn to anyone for advice. Sheer determination and patience has got her an appointment this Thursday back at Southmead when no doubt her concerns and medical needs will be resolved, but there does appear to be a root problem here which needs investigating and resolving.

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Response from Southmead Hospital

Dear Anonymous – thank you for taking the time and trouble to post your comments on your wife’s Orthopaedic Treatment at Southmead Hospital. I am pleased that she initially received very good treatment and apologise for the communications you experienced after this.

I regret that the term primary care was not clarified so you were unaware that your wife had been discharged back to the care of her GP. It is very easy to fall into the jargon used within the health care environment and I apologise that the term, which is familiar to health care professionals was used and accept this would not be clear to members of the wider public. I have passed on this part of your feedback to the Orthopaedics Team.

I apologise that you and your wife were frustrated with attempts to contact the correct part of the service and understand how anxious this can make patients feel.

The Appointments Team telephones can be very busy and we are aware the “queuing facility” does sometimes cut patient’s off. As an alternative you can email the team at outpatientscallcentre@nbt.nhs.uk This method of contact saves patients having to wait for a call to be answered and allows the issue to be investigated and a timely response to be provided. We are aware that many letters do not carry this alternative contact and I understand that the Appointments Team are working to address this.

I was pleased to learn that your wife now has her appointment and I hope that her care now progresses smoothly and that she is soon fully recovered.

Kind Regards – Steve Sykes

Advice and Complaints Team

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