"Lack of care and respect for my daughter/failure to respond to a written complaint"

About: Warrington Hospital / Ophthalmology

(as a parent/guardian),

My daughter was referred to the Opthalmic Department at Warrington General Hospital by her optician in August 2012 and received an appointment to see a specialist in October. We arrived early for this appointment and had to wait a very long time before being called in to have an eye test.

We then had to wait in a different area until being called in by a junior doctor who carried out an examination, tested her eye pressure etc but stated that she could not tell us anything and that we would have to see a senior doctor. We then had to go back out and wait to be called. After a period of time we were called in, the senior doctor carried out a further examination and then said I want my boss to have a look at you and sent a Junior Doctor to fetch this specialist.

By this time it was approaching 3hrs since our appointment time, when eventually the specialist (the person we had been told originally that our appointment was with) came into the room, carrying various things including a newspaper and wearing a coat and outside garments. They never acknowledged that either of us were in the room just spoke to the senior doctor. They then slammed the paper on the desk, removed their coat and said they would take a look.

The examination lasted less than 30 seconds and made both of us feel like we were an inconvenience. They then mumbled something to the senior doctor, marked a sheet and picked up their stuff and left. They appeared to be in a hurry to leave and we were both of the opinion that the senior doctor was taken aback by his actions, I don't think they knew what to say at that point. I asked what happens now and the senior doctor said that my daughter needed further tests and that the optician was correct about the swelling at the back of the eyes. They passed us a form and told us to hand it in at reception, which was closed. Only cleaners were present so we posted the form in a box at reception.

A follow up appointment was received for December. My daughter rang the hospital to request an earlier appointment as she didn't want to feel that the appointment would be rushed or stop anyone from being able to go home on time. She was told that the next available appointment was late January 2013, therefore she decided to keep the original appointment offered. Once again we arrived early, prior to the appointment time, and she was called in after only 5 minutes. She had an eye test and was told to sit in the waiting area. After another 10 minutes we were called and taken down the corridor for a field test which took about 30 minutes. We were then told to sit and wait in the corridor. We seemed to be waiting around 45 minutes before a member of staff came into the corridor (a public area) and proceeded to ask my daughter personal questions. They then went back into the room. About 30 minutes later, during which other staff approached and stated 'it won't be long' which seemed very strange, the member of staff came back out and informed us that my daughter had been put in the wrong clinic. They informed us that they could not see her as this would be taking another consultant's patient. At this point I interjected, in disgust, as we had already been at the hospital for over 2 hours. I said to this member of staff that first of all they should not be asking personel questions in the corridor and then asked who had made the mistake; the consultant or the clerical staff. At this stage the sister on duty intervened and proceeded to try to find out what had happened.

Once again we were left to sit and wait, after around 20 minutes the sister returned to advise us that there had been a mistake (but didn't state by who) and went in to see the member of staff. The member of staff then came out into the corridor and informed us that they would see my daughter if it was an emergency otherwise she would have to rearrange the appointment. We objected on the basis that she had already been waiting since being referred in August, and knew that potentially the swelling could indicate the presence of a tumour and she had taken a day off work to attend. I said that the way she had been treated was disgusting. Every time my daughter attends an appointment she loses money by having to take time off work. I said that it was not acceptable to wait for a further appointment and therefore she would like to see this member of staff. We then had to wait again whilst this person saw another patient before calling us in. Also present in the room at this time was a student in their final year and the sister. The member of staff examined Catherine's eyes. The sister left during the examination and then came back into the room and spoke to the member of staff who then told us that they had managed to get us the tests done, that they could not do in her surgery, and to go with the sister to get pictures taken.

We were made to feel that we should be thankful for having this done by the sister as they said that the lady taking the pictures was staying behind in her own time to do them. Pictures were taken and we then returned to the waiting area, and after 5 minutes the member of staff came to the door with the lady who had taken the pictures and informed us that more pictures had to be taken. We went with the lady again and had more black and white pictures taken and returned to the waiting area. After around 10 minutes the member of staff called us in again and showed us the colour pictures and the deviations on them, which the member of staff explained they hadn't expected to see. They then referred to the black and white pictures and told us that if my daughter had been born with this condition the pictures would glow, but they didn't and just showed a black square. They then said that they didn't want us to be concerned but as a precaution they were going to arrange for her to have an urgent brain scan before Christmas and that we would be contacted shortly.

As my daughter had not heard anything by late December she phoned the hospital and spoke to the member of staff's secretary. The secretary informed her that they had checked and confirmed that the scan had been requested in mid December, and that my daughter should receive a call as a letter would not get to her in time. My daughter was worried that it was getting close to Christmas and the secretary advised her that they did the scans in the evening and over the weekend, so the appointment would be before or just after Christmas so they advised her not to worry.

On the following day, my daughter received a letter regarding an appointment for a MRI scan at Runcorn Hospital for mid January. She contacted the hospital and was informed that the member of staff's secretary was not available until the following day and a message was left for them to contact her in the morning. She therefore called the MRI centre to explain the circumstances and to request an earlier appointment but was told that the request they had received had not been marked as urgent and that she would have to contact the hospital. As she had not received a call by 11am on the following day, she called the member of staff's secretary who said they would look into it and someone would call her back.

My daughter received a call from a someone and explained what had happened. They said they would ask the specialist that our original appointment was with to look at the notes. This person then rang back around an hour later to tell my daughter that the specialist had said all the tests were fine and that it was just a routine (non urgent) scan. I took the phone off her and spoke to this person directly. I told them that I didn't accept the specialist's comments as they had not examined my daughter properly in the first instance. I said I wanted a second opinion and that if it turned out that she does have a tumour, I would sue the Hospital for negligence. I was then told that if I wished to make a complaint to contact PALS.

I phoned PALS and left a message requesting a call back. As I didn't receive a call back I called again and spoke to someone. I explained what had happened and they told me to make a complaint to the Chief Executive and that they would speak to PALS. I then got a call from another member of the PALS team (more senior) and explained in great detail yet again what had happened. This person informed me that they had tried to get the appointment (scan) brought forward without success, I told them this was unacceptable and that I would be making a formal complaint.

I sent a formal complaint the next day, this was late December, and received an acknowledgement letter dated 6 days later, stating that consent was required to access my daughters records and that I should expect a reply within 30 working days. A further letter dated early January stated that a response would be provided by mid February.

No urgent MRI was arranged and the appointment/scan was carried out on in mid January as previously arranged. Despite following this formal complaint up via phone call and email after the date stated in mid February, I then received a further letter stating that a further two weeks was required to complete their enquiries and to provide a written response.

To date I have not received any further response, which suggests to me that the hospital simply can't be bothered to respond to formal complaints and appear not to care about how patients are treated or what their concerns are.

It would be useful to know where I can take this complaint to next, as I believe the hospital doesn't take complaints seriously!

My daughter has ended up having to have a lumber puncture which caused an ongoing problem with severe headache which resulted in her going back into hospital via ambulance and is now waiting to see a neurologist.

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