"King's college - waited over 2 hours to be told consultant had gone home"

About: King's College Hospital (Denmark Hill)

(as the patient),

An appointment scheduled for March was put back a whole month with no explanation, so naturally I was anxious to see my consultant to progress my complex health issues.

I previously reported on service problems at this hospital in terms of a shambolic pre-op assessment, use of drugs without patient consent, and the cancellation of another appointment 1 day beforehand.

I took time out of my busy working day to arrive in good time for the appointment today. The board indicated he was running 2 hours behind - I consoled myself with the fact that at least I would see him at some stage.

I had fought long and hard to be referred to him and actually had to pay to see him privately first, then change NHS GPs 3 times before I could find one who would refer me. All in all it took over a year to get this far, all the time managing my chronic health issues myself.

Close to 6 pm I noticed him leaving the area and I was called by someone else who didn't know how to pronounce my name. I explained there must be a mistake, that I was there to see Mr X. To which I was told he had gone home. This person seemed to think I would be content with seeing him - someone else with no knowledge of my issues and without the specific expertise for which I had selected Mr X.

If my appointment is with Mr X, I want to see Mr X.

The arrogance and disrespect towards taxpayers is truly astounding. Sure I wish I had private medical, but I do not and I am a taxpayer who funds the NHS against my will. So I am entitled to an adequate level service from the broken-down machine in which failure is like a contagious disease that permeates every aspect of the NHS.

This individual told me I should come back one day next week, tell the receptionist what had happened, and then she should be able to arrange to squeeze me in, if he was there.

I nearly burst a blood vessel there and then. Good thing I did not, or I probably would have had to write a report on service failures in A and E as well.

So I was left with a missed appointment, a wasted afternoon, no apology, no confirmation (ie written evidence) of another appointment, and told to turn up and that I may see him, but it could be guaranteed.

Truly disgraceful. This person didn't even give me a name and seem annoyed when I asked them to identify themselves.

I recently identified a pattern of this service failure in the NHS when I wasted a morning waiting to see a consultant at St Thomas's to be told my consultant was on holiday.

It seems that second class citizens like me are fobbed off with whoever is available - even when we have fought long and hard to see a named consultant on the basis of their expertise. In fact, a staff member at Chelsea and Westminster told me only private patients were guaranteed to see a consultant of their choice, the rest of us had to make to with registrars.

What irritates me the most is that I have to explain this to my employer; it happens so often they just don't believe me when I tell them I took half a day off work and still didn't have my appointment.

Those inane school mistress-type letters that the NHS sends out telling me not to be late, to cancel in good time, etc irks me more than anything. Can you not extend us taxpayers the same courtesy?

I am going to take pleasure in arranging another appointment and not turning up - see how you like it.

I've decided to take out a loan and see a private specialist because I cannot take this anymore, I've had enough. Perhaps that is the whole intention of this game, to make us so fed up we go elsewhere. One less for the NHS to deal with.

Why put so many patients on a consultant's list that he cannot work through them? I know, it's to help with massaging statistics and meeting targets - even though the service is appalling, indeed there was no service in my case - but you can tick all those lovely boxes that show 24 people were 'seen' by Mr X today.

Words cannot express my anger. I am truly outraged.

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Response from Jessica Bush, Head of Engagement and Patient Experience, King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

I am very sorry once again to hear of your difficulties with the service provided by King's College Hospital. I have responded today to your other comment and would again urge you to contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service so that we can discuss the issues that you have raised in more detail and also take them up with relevant staff so that we can put actions in place to stop this happening again. We really value your feedback but we would like to be able to do something to address the issues and would really appreciate you gettingn in touch.

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Response from King's College Hospital (Denmark Hill)

Thank you for taking the time to comment about King's College Hospital on Patient Opinion. We are very sorry for the continuing difficulties and frustration being experienced with communication with the hospital about your appointment. So that we can address some of the problems that you have experienced, it would be very helpful to have further details, such as which specialty you have been referred into. We would be very grateful if you could contact King's Patient Advice and Liaison Service so that we can take this forward. They can be contacted either by emailing kch-tr.pals@nhs.net or phoning 020 3299 3601. Alternatively, please get in touch with me directly on 020 3299 4618 or via email to jessica.bush@nhs.net. Once again, please accept our apologies and I do hope that we can communicate further so that we can avoid this happening again.

Update posted by Waarheid (the patient)

To add insult to injury, my long awaited appointment has once again been put back. I have been given less than 1 working day's notice to inform my employer of the change. I was assured this would not happen again - I was meant to see this consultant in March, then April, then May - I was promised to be first on the list so that I would not be fobbed off with a registrar. Now it's been put back to the pm. I don't know if I can be bothered anymore. I have given up ever seeing my consultant again.

Why do you treat tax payers this way? You just keep doing it over and over.

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