Friday, 19 September 2014

Southend Hospital - a user's view

In my last blog entry I detailed my recent health trials and tribulations. In general terms the competence and dedication of our local NHS staff is beyond doubt. However I do have some feedback from the perspective of a user. Whilst I suspected the diagnosis from the outset I started by using the “111” service which is intended to reduce the burden on the A&E by encouraging those who do not need to attend to go elsewhere. I found the service worked well and the member of staff I spoke to was helpful and constructive. Having consulted with a colleague I was advised to attend Southend A&E within the hour and was told that they would have passed my details to A&E so that I was expected and they would have an indication as to the problem. We immediately went to A&E but when mentioning our discussion with “111” were told that in fact there had been no communication and that “..they always say that but we never get anything through.” I do not know how the system is supposed to work but can see the good sense of prior contact. In any event the reaction on arrival at A&E was very negative and if it is occurring regularly can only deter use of “111”. Either the communication needs to improve or the “111” operatives need to drop that line from their script. A&E was quiet being Sunday morning. We were seen for an initial assessment in about 30 minutes. I was asked to read from an eye chart with my left eye but when I explained that I couldn’t even make out the chart never mind any letters the person in question seemed quite annoyed ! I would have thought that a referral to the eye clinic was reasonably obvious and would have got me out of A&E but we waited for a couple more hours before being seen for a second time. This more or less duplicated the first examination (although without the eye chart) and after about a minute it was confirmed that I needed to go to the eye clinic. We were asked to be at the clinic at 5pm when a nurse and doctor were called in. There were just 2 patients. The staff were thorough, reassuring and supportive. The diagnosis on both eyes was made with telephone contact with the consultant and an appointment for the following morning in the clinic. Obviously the clinic was a little more frantic the following day and there did appear to be a repetition of the majority of the tests which had been carried out the previous evening before I was seen by the consultant and operations on both eyes scheduled for the following day. I re attended where the staff were again helpful and everything seemed to go smoothly leading to my discharge. I do wonder if the staff would be helped by improved IT support. The eye clinic could not decipher the brief notes from A&E and effectively started again. The second attendance at the clinic did not seem to take into account the detailed examination of the previous day although this may be for very good medical reasons. I do think there needs to be improvement in the “111” and A&E axis and would IT help ease the burden on the hospital’s hard working staff?

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