"Referrals to consultants - who makes the appointments??"

About: City Hospital campus / General surgery

(as the patient),

This begins last year, when I went to my GP about an ongoing digestive problem. He said he was referring me to a gastroenterologist, and some time later I received a letter giving me a phone number to call to make an appointment. I was offered appointments at several hospitals, and took the earliest one available, at City Hospital. When I turned up, the consultant I had been referred to said he didn’t know why I was there, because he was a general surgeon, not a gastroenterologist – he felt the error had probably been made by the appointment making service.

Because he did a lot of gastric surgery, he was able to discuss my condition (severe reflux) with me, and refer me for a barium swallow, which didn’t show anything unusual. Over the past year I have managed my condition with medication, with the help of my GP, but recently things have got worse, so my GP once again said he wanted me to see a gastroenterologist. I reminded him of what had happened last year, and he assured me that he would make certain I was referred to the correct department this time. Several days later I received a phone call, on behalf of your doctor, offering me an appointment at any one of a number of hospitals. Once again, I chose the first one available, this time at the Woodthorpe Hospital . The woman making the appointment could not or would not tell me the name of the consultant, or what his or her medical department was. When I received my appointment letter on Friday, for an appointment the following Tuesday, I looked up the name of the consultant and once again, I had been referred to a surgeon not a gastroenterologist.

Why is this happening? ? What happens between the GP’s request and the agency that makes the appointments? It used to be that the GP would decide on which consultant you should see, he or she would write a letter to them, and an appointment would be made directly. Now the system has been fragmented, and part of the process is being handled by people without the knowledge needed to make the correct referrals. So mistakes like this keep getting made. wasting my time, and the NHS’s money. This is disgraceful, and makes me extremely worried about what is happening to our once-wonderful NHS.

The story is not over. When I arrived for my appointment this morning, I was told that the consultant had not arrived yet. Twenty minutes later, all the patients waiting for him were told he wasn’t coming at all, and that our appointments would have to be rebooked. I have since spoken to the secretary at my GP’s practice, and she is looking into the situation to see if I can be referred to the right person. I feel a sense of despair. The efficiencies that have been introduced into the NHS over the past couple of years should be renamed inefficiencies. A perfectly good, working system has been ruined. Why?

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Response from Helen Limb, Patient and Public Involvement Manager, NHS Rushcliffe Clinical Commissioning Group

Thank you for taking the time to give feedback regarding your recent referral.

I am sorry that your experience was not a good one on several occasions.

NHS Rushcliffe Clinical Assessment Service (CAS) book hospital appointments for patients following a GP referral, they are able to offer a choice of provider to patients so they can be seen at a convenient time and place. Although this may appear to be yet another step in the process, it is a necessary step as it is not feasible for a GP to carry out all this work in a short consultation.

To be able to look into your particular concern, I would be grateful if you could contact me by email Helen.limb@nottspct.nhs.uk or by telephone on 0115 8837880 as I would like to have a few more details to be able to look into this further for you and provide a comprehensive response.

We welcome feedback, and continually review and streamline our processes, taking into account patient feedback.

Kind regards

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