Lewes Road, Forest Row, E Sussex, England, RH18 5AQ
Last week in France the earpiece from my hearing aid became detached from the wire and embedded itself deep in my ear canal. I was thus rendered totally deaf in my right ear and in some discomfort ( think of having a large frozen pea rammed in your ear). My neighbour was able to contact the Audiology unit in crowborough who saw me the day I returned home and confirmed they could just see the earpiece and that I needed to see my GP. I rang them. Got cut off the first time. Second time the receptionist informed me they hadn't the equipment to remove the earpiece from my ear and I should go to minor injuries unit. More petrol, pollution, anguish, phone calls and upset. Went straight into minor injuries unit and within three seconds the nurse had removed the earpiece using a cottonwool bud with a small blob of superglue on it. I suppose the surgery must be tight on cash if it can't afford a pack of cotton wool buds and a small tube of superglue. Additionally getting an appointment is upsetting, time consuming and usually unsuccessful. Now the receptionists are allowed to ask why you want to see the doctor, they are making judgements on your symptoms without proper training. Having been fobbed off on at least three occasions I finally got to see a doctor, with symptoms which could have been serious, five months after they began, having been told by receptionists that they weren't a medical emergency. As a result I went to the hospital for an MRI scan long after I should have been given an appointment. Unfortunately the receptionist at the hospital forgot to check me in so after two hours waiting I had to be given an alternative date which will be 3 June, now more than five months since I first had the symptoms. Either this surgery is over subscribed with patients and/or their management is incompetent. Why do they close for an hour and a half at lunch time? Why no late night surgeries, or come-and-wait-and-be-seen-according-to-your-ticket-number surgeries, or Saturday surgeries? It's a mess.
Up until recently I have never had a problem getting an appointment at the surgery. Not that I’m a regular attender. I’ve become quite frustrated trying to get x-ray results for my husband. The x-rays were not reviewed a week post x-ray when I called for them. On a further call back we were offered a phone appointment which was appropriate. This is where my frustration begins. The doctor attempted to call back and hung up as my husband answered. No further callback was attempted I called back to the surgery and was kindly given a second appointment for that day. Unfortunately the line was engaged for a couple of minutes. This is when the doctor called back. Again no further callback was attempted. I understand that the doctors are busy. I too have worked as a clinician in a surgery so I understand how busy they are. My point is that one a attempt at a call back is not good enough. You are not given an exact time for your call back so perhaps up to three attempts should be made as in other surgeries. I can’t book an afternoon appointment in the morning so I will have to try again at 1:30 for an afternoon appointment.
I spent 45 minutes trying to get through and holding on to make an appointment this morning, only to be cut off when I was next. I then spent another 20 minutes trying again, only to find all appointments taken. My husband tried all last week without success to make an appointment. I was told the system does cut off when overloaded. This is an impossible situation.
As an experienced ex-nurse, I continue to be disappointed by this GP unit. First of all there is a long message on the answerphone with a very irritating voice. This is frustrating when you don’t have much time to make the call. There are only set times to call for appointments which is difficult when at work and you can’t get to the phone at these times. Added to which, because everyone else has to call at these times, it is unlikely you can get through quickly or at all which means you need a great deal of time to do this. The word “empathy” seems an anathema to staff working here including the doctors. So, when the shock and inconvenience of some medical condition arises, it is with great reluctance that I want to go near this clinic. My recent experience of trying to get test results has been appalling for 2 separate health issues. I am left with no result or communication about an echocardiogram that was performed at the princess royal hospital over 2 months ago. At the time I was not informed that the results would not be sent to the clinic who instructed me to call the hospital where I have left several messages with the cardiologist’s secretary who has not returned my call. Perhaps staff do not realise that when their patients need medical advice or attention, they should not have to put up with unhelpfulness or have to be aggressively assertive to get their needs met.
At 08.30 I dialled repeatedly for 20 mins. before getting through to reception. By this time all doctors' appointments had gone. I was told to ring back at 13.30. I rang repeatedly for 20 mins from this time before getting through. So, again, no appointments available for the afternoon, except for two nurses who deal with phlebotomy, which I do not need. I went online to book and guess what? No appointments available there today or even for any future date either. This is just appauling.