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"Waiting patiently doesn't seem to be enough."

About: Derriford Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as a carer),

After posting my first story with my mother's experience of waiting for a hip op (I am her carer-companion), along with speaking with PALS, my update is that she has been given a new date, almost immediately.  We are now both preparing her to go into hospital.  Time will tell if the op goes ahead.

I've found this last week sobering.  I've been doing lots of research online to find out about our rights under the NHS constitution, how stretched the NHS is nationally, what Derriford being a "major trauma centre" actually means, and how to complain. 

There seem hardly any options for giving feedback - thank goodness for Care Opinion (which I've never seen advertised at any NHS facility).  Derriford seems to rely on the "Friends & Family test" which is too simplified - one may well be willing to recommend the surgeons but feel uttlerly let down by the long waiting time! 

Also NHS Choices statistics of "9/10 patients seen in up to 22 weeks" for Orthopaedics would be more useful if it gave the range from the shortest time waiting to the longest time waiting (these are the figures for July 2017). 

It would help too if the Arthritis booklets which are in the waiting area are amended - these say that a wait between 8-12 weeks is normal.  Neither of these give a realistic idea of what your actual waiting time may be.  My mother presumably was the 1 in 10 patient.

The NHE - National Health Executive - online magazine has helped to explain what is going on in the NHS in real terms.  But at first glance on a search online about waiting limits, most sites tell you that we all have rights under the NHS constitution of 18 weeks for maximum waiting time from date of referral and a "last minute" cancellation clause giving a new appointment in 28 days. 

My PALS contact said no NHS facilities are able to meet these rights currently.  Why are they still given then as all it does is give patients an expectation that cannot be fulfilled?  What can you do if you're still waiting?  This week has taught me that the thing to do is to speak to PALS and not be put off if they give you a pessimistic context but trust that they will try to resolve your issue. Tell your story on this forum. Be willing to complain. Waiting patiently doesn't seem to be enough.


Response from Alison Stanton, Complaints and PALS Manager, University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust

picture of Alison Stanton

The Service Line Cluster Manager for Trauma, Orthopaedics and Rheumatology has responded to say:

Orthopaedics aspires to offer all patients treatment within 18 weeks of their referral. Regrettably, this is not always possible, and owing to a number of factors, the department has a number of patients waiting longer than this for their treatment. The department continues to work hard to reduce waiting times for patients, and thanks anonymous for taking the time to document their concerns.

Alison Stanton, Complaints and PALS Manager says, together with the Friends and Family Test, we also have a contact form/complaint form on our website, with the contact details for our PALS team should a family wish to get in touch. PALS can signpost a family to the formal complaints procedure, assist in raising concerns or simply help you to share your feedback with the service line responsible for that area. I can see that you have used PALS already, but a patient and family can feedback directly to the department or ward too. Our PALS team are situated on Level 7 in the Welcome Centre, and are available from Monday through to Friday, in case families need to pop in to speak to someone about their concerns.

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