"How to tell the hospital I can't make the appointment?"

About: Victoria Infirmary

(as the patient),

Regular NHS appointments are notified to patients by letter. They say it is important to telephone if you can't make the appointment. This makes perfect sense. I as a tax payer want the service to work efficiently and want to contribute to its efficient operation.

However, when I had call to change an appointment date because of a work commitment, I was unable to get through to the Clinic. The number simply rang out.

I telephoned the hospital reception and began "I have been trying to contact Clinic L ...". I was not given the courtesy of finishing my sentence before I was transferred to the number that rang out.

I called back and started with "Please do not transfer me until I've finished explaining!" at which point I explained that I couldn't get through to the Clinic. The receptionist told me that it wasn't her job to take messages and I'd just have to try later.

I tried on numerous occasions over 4-5 days with no joy. Eventually I had to phone my GP (Great GP; Great receptionists!) and ask them for a number. They consulted my notes and offered me the direct dial of my consultant's PA.

I phoned her and spoke about the problems I'd had. She very helpfully sorted out an alternative appointment slot which suited me and commiserated about the disorganisation of the hospital's communication systems in general.

I also mentioned it to the Consultant when I visited him. I was met with sympathetic noises and a general sense that there was nothing to be done to improve the situation.

If a consultant can't get better results about the way his own organisation works, how on earth can I?

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Response from John Hamilton, Head of Board Administration, Board Administration, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

We appreciate you spending the time to share your frustrations with us about the real difficulties you have had in trying to phone to change your appointment date.

I apologise for the frustration you have experienced and the additional stress and problems this has given you. Sorry. I was glad to read however that you were able to make the change of appointment via the Consutlant's PA.

We value your feedback and are now currently considering the specific issues you have raised and once we have done this, we will post a more detailed response.

Thank you for letting us know about your experience and we will be back in touch,


  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful