" Telephone appointment, I was on a fools errand"

About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART) Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Wonford) / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as the patient),

Royal Devon and Exeter Appointment Answer Phone

I am really cross. I responded to the appointment referral and spoke to someone on 30/7/12 and they made me two appointments. For my knee, I specified I was to see the consultant as I had already been down the 'Specialist Physiotherapist' route and had all the MRI and x-ray etc and the Consultant was what my GP wanted.

When the letter came it was to see a SP again. I called and was given a number for the Orthopedic Dept at RD & E and no matter when I called the message said to either leave a number - which I did - or no answer at all. No one called back. Today 20/8/12 I have virtually sat on the phone much of the afternoon to Orthopedics and then Appointments. I was told repeatedly that I was first 'second in the queue' and when I gave up on that after an unmeasured time I tried the Orth Dept number again. Still no reply so I went back to Appointments.

I was told for 35mins that I was the next call to be answered. At 5. 05pm (ish) I phoned the same number on my mobile, just to be told that the appointments office shut at 5pm and to call again in office hours.This was despite the fact that my home phone connection was still telling me that I was the next call to be answered.

I know that we are all busy and your staff in all areas of the NHS are just wonderful but -and this is a big but - at least either get the appointments right first time or answer the phone.

I deeply regret that I am so mad that I have to write this letter. I, like countless others, owe my life to the wonderful NHS staff and my complaint is really about the waste of my time and phone money, the irritating ingratiating reassurance punctuated by Motzart of recorded messages and the inaccurate misleading drivel that encouraged me to carry on wasting my time depite the fact that I was on a fools errand.

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Response from Gaynor Hitchcock, Directorate Governance Lead for Trauma, Orthopaedics, Critical Care & Rheumatology, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for taking the time to feedback your experience to us. I am sorry to hear of the problems you have experienced in trying to speak with someone in our bookings team. We have recently introduced a new telephone bookings system into the department which we are experiencing some teething problems with. This has been compounded by vacancies in our clerical team which have made it difficult to always cover the telephone. I would like to assure you that your concerns are being taken seriously and we are working very hard to resolve the current issues with the telephone system. We have for example just employed a number of booking clerks which should help reduce problems that patients such as yourself have experienced adn told us about.

I am sorry also that you appear to have been booked on to the wrong clinic. Referral letters are graded by a clinician and should then be booked onto an appropriate clinic accordingly. This could be a consultant, registrar, fellow or physio clinic for example. Without a bit more detail I can’t be sure what has happened here, but I would be more than willing to look into this further for you . If you would like me to look into this then please get in touch - my phone number is 01392 403554, Monday – Friday, 9-5.

Matt Clarke, Associate Clinical Services Manager, Trauma & Orthopaedics.

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