"long waiting time compounded by lack of..."

About: Western Eye Hospital

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I attended the A&E on Saturday night just after 6p.m. having been told by Specsavers that I needed to get a sudden eye problem checked out immediately. I would have appreciated the opportunity simply to ask somebody if I really needed to wait, as the notice board said "waiting time to see a doctor: 4 hours + " I could have returned the next day when the A&E was not so busy. I did mention the waiting time to the receptionist who took my address details etc but he said: "Don't worry about that" and implied that the wait would not be that long. I saw a nurse fairly quickly and had drops put in my eye. This meant my vision was blurred and I could not see to read my book. There commenced a very long uncomfortable boring wait. No facilities to buy any food or drink, as a previous reviewer has mentioned. No diversion of any kind apart from a few dog-eared magazines which were inaccessible owing to the effect of the eye drops. We all waited...and waited. Occasionally someone would get called in, then reappear. There was no indication of what was happening or how long any of us would have to wait. One person went to the toilet and missed her name being called, then couldn't find anybody to speak to to regain her place. Shortly after after 8p.m a nurse came out and read out a list of names. We all stood up eagerly thinking there was some progress, but she just told us to follow her upstairs. We all crammed into the lift and were shown into a small side ward with a row of chairs, where we were left - with no explanation whatsoever. The conditions here were worse than downstairs as it was colder, more cramped and there were fewer chairs for the number of people waiting. More time went by. I began to wonder if there was even a doctor on the premises. Finally people began to be called through to the next room, but very slowly. I began to worry whether I would be seen before the trains stopped running, or that the effect of the eye drops would have worn off by the time I saw a doctor, so that a further delay would be caused. In desperation around 10pm a couple of people did inquire what was going on, and I found out that there were two people ahead of me. I decided to wait as I still didn't know if my eye problem was serious, and I had already spent so long waiting. At abut 10.30 .m. I finally saw a doctor. He was apologetic about the length of time I'd had to wait, was very polite and did a thorough examination. I had confidence in his diagnosis and was given clear information about my condition and the implications and any potential complications. In summary, the treatment from the doctor was excellent. The patient care from admin/ nursing staff was lacking in consideration and communication. If one knows there will be a 4 hour wait then it is not so bad as thinking it will be over in two hours, or any minute. A little courtesy in communication (or even a ticket number system) would go a long way to improving the experience.

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Response from Western Eye Hospital

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust appreciates the feedback with regard to your experience of A & E at the Western Eye Hospital. We apologise for the delays and for he poor communication and information you have reported. Your comments are important to us and have been passed on to managers to ensure that we improve the experience for our patients. Thank you for your kind acknowledgement and appreciation for the care the doctor provided.

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