Written by a patient
21st February 2020
I found the appointment-making process rather frustrating, as I was unable to find an appointment online. I was then not permitted to call at my convenience; rather; I had to wait for a call from a call centre. My GP initially referred to me to King George's Hospital; however, I was told that there was only one appointment available and this was at Queen's Hospital. I was told if I did not take this, I would be discharged back to my GP. While I understand that it is difficult to fit all patients in and that there are targets to be met, it also has to be taken into account that people work, have other commitments etc and cannot always make a given appointment. Greater flexibility would be very much appreciated. Moreover, the ability to make an appointment in person would be more effective and less wasteful, as people would be able to negotiate a day and time that suits all parties. If I'm doing something for my health that is worrying me, I don't want to be made to feel like I've done something wrong for not accepting an appointment or being pressured into doing something I'm not comfortable with.
In terms of my appointments and treatment, there was nearly an hour's delay for my initial consultation, which was not made clear to me. I was then asked to take documents to a reception elsewhere but it was not made clear to me what I was actually supposed to be doing or which direction to go in.
On a separate occasion, the ultrasound team did a great job and I was seen pretty much on time. I cannot fault them.
The walk-in blood test area I attended later was very busy and not easy to negotiate for somebody who has never been there. The wait was some 80-90 minutes plus, which is not ideal if you've fasted since the previous day and haven't got a specific appointment, for those with young children etc.. The staff there seemed very much over-worked and under a lot of pressure, as the technology had failed them. It meant that one staff member had to run around, simultaneously shouting out ticket numbers, answering questions and so on, when she would've been more effectively used as a phlebotomist. The lady who took my blood was patient, kind and efficient. Under the circumstances, I do not feel this team can be criticised on the basis of the work they were doing.
On the whole, I felt there was a lot of rushing and sometimes it was like I was on a conveyer-belt to tick boxes. That said, I felt that the vast majority of the staff did the best they could under challenging circumstances. Ultimately, I've received the care and treatment I needed, within a reasonable time-frame from my GP referral. In an ideal world, I would've preferred to attend a hospital closer to my home and a more flexible booking system would make for a smoother build-up to appointments.