"Poor organization at York Diabetes Clinic."

About: York Hospital / Diabetic medicine

(as the patient),

On 12/12/2007 I took my 15 year old son for his annual diabetes review. The appointment was scheduled for 5.00 pm and involved height, weight and BP checks followed by a consultation with a doctor. We arrived at 4.50 pm and the tests were carried out immediately. We took a seat in the waiting area. One hour later we were still waiting. Eventually at 6.15 pm I approached the reception desk and explained that we could not wait any longer. (I had an important appointment at 6.30 pm)

The nurse explained that the clinic was delayed because it was "annual review and there is always a lot to do". I explained that we had been waiting for almost 90 minutes with no information or advice about the delay. I asked why there were 3 families waiting who all had 5.00 pm appointments. I was told that it "is just the way we do things".The receptionist offered an appointment in March but said that all the tests carried out at the GP surgery in the weeks prior to the appointment would have to be repeated.

My son has been diabetic since he was one. He approaches clinic appointments with trepidation. He is aware of the complications that diabetes can cause. He has no information about the results of the tests and now has to wait for 3 months. The GP tests and appointment have cost my son 3 periods of missed schooling (in his GCSE year) and I have lost 6 hours of work (unpaid).

Diabetes in childhood involves a commitment for the whole family. It will involve a lifelong commitment for my son. He knows he will need to attend regular reviews. Regrettably the service at York is unlikely to encourage him to honour this commitment if he can look forward to extensive delays, lost income and wasted time.

There are simple steps that would improve the service:

1. Ask staff not to stand at reception chatting about Christmas plans while there is a waiting room full of patients waiting to be seen. (One clinician chatted to the receptionist for 10 minutes within earshot of the patients while we waited).

2. Don't overbook appointments...it isn't possible to deal with 3 people at once.

3. Provide information about likely delays on arrival so that families can go to the coffee shop, or buy a newspaper while they wait.

4. Keep patients informed while they wait so they can inform others eg waiting transport.

5. Provide in advance an estimated length of time for the clinic appointment so that other plans, meals and childcare can be arranged accordingly.

6. Treat patients with respect and courtesy.

These suggestions are not expensive to implement. They simply require that the staff at York hospital gain an insight into the needs of the people who pay their wages!

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Response from York Hospital

Thank you for your comments and we apologise for not responding at the time of posting. Please be assured that in future York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust will respond to all comments in a timely manner.

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