"The waiting time at Sutton Eye Casualty is..."

About: Sutton Hospital

What I liked

I attended Ophthalmology Casualty for and episode of recurrent Epischleritis yesterday. Once I saw the Consultant I received excellent treatment and care. Nursing staff were polite and were doing their best in difficult circumstances

What could be improved

I telephoned the previous day to request to be seen at Eye Casualty for an episode of recurrent Epischleritis. I was given a 10.00 appointment time. I arrived at 09.50 and was not seen by the medical staff until 13.15. I was not given any information as to how long I should expect to wait and it was only owing to previous experience of long waiting times that I came prepared with a book to read. This is an unacceptable length of time to wait and many others in the waiting room were experiencing the same frustrations.

I was particularly concerned about an elderly gentleman who in desperation got up and went to find the doctor at 13.00 having been waiting since 09.30. He had not had anything to drink or been able to go to the toilet all morning for fear of missing his turn. He was not given any information as to how long to expect to wait.

I have been attending Eye Casualty periodically for the last 5 years as it is the only way I can receive steroid eye drops for recurrent episodes of Epischleritis. I have experienced this unacceptably long waiting time, despite having previously arranged an appointment time, at each visit. I have on occasion had to wait for more than 4 hours which in breach of A&E waiting time targets.

I realise that there is a high demand for this service and it is therefore essential that more doctors should be employed to deal with the numbers of patients. The staff are pleasant and hard working but there is a fundamental failure of the system within which they are working.

Anything else?

The unacceptably long waiting times at Eye Casualty is a common experience for every person I have spoken to who has used this service.

The car parking costs are extremely high and it is not only impossible to predict how long to pay for at the outset it is also impossible to extend the parking payment for fear of losing one's turn. An exit payment system would be much better.

Drinking water should be available to patients in the waing area.

More information about expected waiting time should be given.

Appointment and triage system should be improved.

More medical staff need to be employed to deal with patient numbers.

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Response from Sutton Hospital

Thank you for taking the time to let us have feedback about your recent visit to the eye casualty at Sutton Hospital, including your positive comments about the excellent treatment and care you received.

I am of course very sorry that you had to wait for some time to be seen, but, as you yourself acknowledge, it is an A&E (accident and emergency) department and people will experience delays as we treat patients in order of clinical priority. However, I would emphasise that our performance against the Government's key A&E standards is very good. You can see the latest results on our website: http://www.epsom-sthelier.nhs.uk/about-us/our-performance/ae-accident-and-emergency-department-performance/.

Having said that, I have forwarded your comments to the team in charge of the unit and have asked them to look at the issues you have raised, especially in relation to the triage system, letting people know how long they will have to wait, and whether we can provide water for patients to drink.

With regard to the car parking, I am pleased to report that we have plans in place to change from a 'pay and display' system to a 'barriered' scheme. This will be introduced as part of our plans to redevelop Sutton Hospital (as part of plans to spend £219 million redeveloping St Helier Hospital).

I hope this helps to address some of your concerns and thank you once again for taking the time to let us have feedback.

Pippa Hart

Director of Nursing

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