"Not my problem"

About: Withington Hospital / Ear, Nose and Throat

(as the patient),

After a series of tests with my GP, to determine the cause of a loss of hearing, I was referred for an MRI scan. Whilst I was still with my GP, he accessed the Choose and Book system to make a suitable appointment; initially at Stepping Hill, but later that day changed to Withington,

Taking note of the warnings to cancel if I could not attend and to make sure I arrived no earlier than 15 minutes before my appointed time, I attended the appointment and then waited 45 minutes beyond my appointment time before I was called.

Instead of the expected MRI scan, I went through exactly the same series of tests with staff at Withington as I had initially with my GP to be told, surprise surprise, that I needed an MRI scan! When I explained that that was my expectation for today, I was told that my appointment was with ENT and not MRI, as if I were expected to know the difference, or that ENT did not do MRI scans.

This means that today's appointment was a waste of both my time and the doctor's time. Either my GP's opinion is worth something, or patients should be told they will have to be diagnosed twice before they can expect to receive confirmational scans.

This now means that not only do I have to take a second day away from work to attend the MRI scan at Stepping Hill expected today, but a third day from work to go back to Withington to discuss the results of the scan when it happens.

Is it really not within the intelligence of the NHS to work out a logistical procedure to have a patient assessed, scanned and given results in the same setting on the same day? The technology exists to print results off and, with the specialist professionals available to interpret these results, all whilst the patient is in attendance.

In saying that, I was disappointed to be asked to fill in the same details (name, date of birth, height, allergies etc...) on three separate pieces of poorly photocopied paper. Whilst computer equipment that already held this information (I had after all given this information at my GPs when I made the appointment) sat idle and in most cases switched off at nurses' stations and in professional consulting rooms.

Finally, having been given two of these pieces of paper, I was instructed to hand one in at the main outpatient reception and take the other to the X-ray department. I realise the NHS has staffing and money problems, but at what point does it become the patient's responsibility to deliver confidential and bureaucratic information to enable the NHS process to work effectively? I realise now that I saw a woman in a wheelchair being pushed by her partner being instructed to do this, as, during my 45 minute wait in the corridor I saw her go past a number of times asking the way to different departments whilst she was holding the same sort of paperwork I was subsequently given.

On returning to the outpatient main reception there was nobody there and I was directed by a passing NHS employee to put my details in a plastic post box on the wall next to reception. Next to this post box was a notice instructing patients to do this after 5pm as reception would not be manned. This implies that reception should have been manned at 4.40pm when I turned up. I am also unhappy to be leaving details of a confidential nature in a flimsy, plastic post box that is externally mounted to the wall in a public place. I would be interested to know the data protection procedures that the hospital and NHS adheres to, if this is acceptable practice.

I came away from the hospital feeling angry, and have used this opportunity to make share my story in the hope that in future I, and others, do not have to go through experiences like this again. I also hope it has brought to your attention that the patient is not a "subject matter expert" on the NHS, its departments or its processes. The patient just wants to be seen by the right person for the right treatment and not feel like they are being treated like an inconvenience in the working lives of busy NHS employees.

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