Delays are ‘dreadful’

TRYING to get an ophthalmic appointment for an elderly relative who lives in Chichester recently has been a deeply disappointing and frustrating experience.

Paperwork from the optician to the GP then to St Richard’s took a week which I thought was reasonable.

However the delay at St Richard’s was three weeks. Dreadful.

The cause? The consultant was on leave and no-one in the surgery knew. I can imagine three weeks’ worth of paperwork piling up on the consultant’s desk from all the other surgeries in the area.

After many exasperating and fruitless phone calls trying to find out what was going on, I was promised last week by the Patient Advisory Liaison Service (used to be called the Complaints Department in my day) that my relative’s referral had finally been seen by the consultant and the waiting list officer at Southlands would be writing to us to invite us to make an appointment.

Sounded promising, but when I phoned today I was told nothing would happen this week, because the waiting list officer is away (there are appointments officers in the same office but apparently they don’t deal with waiting lists).

It is now six weeks since my relative saw the optician and (I am told) that a ten-week queue to see an ophthalmic consultant is normal ONCE THE APPOINTMENT IS MADE!

The local NHS is fragmented, unco-ordinated, delay-ridden, and worst of all, no-one seems to communicate with each other.

So many questions arise from this episode and I really hope that someone in the NHS can answer them. In the meantime, I get frustrated, I spend a fortune on phone calls, but worst of all, my elderly relative has to wait another two or three months before even seeing somebody, let alone being treated.

David Shannon

Linden Road, Bognor Regis