Saturday, August 18, 2012

Lee Health Centre

I have been asked to put this is writing in order that it can be brought to the attention of the management committee at Lee Health Centre.

There are two incidents that you should be aware of.

The first Incident happened to my wife in August 2009.  The second happened on the the 26th of July this year.

The following is a copy of the letter my wife sent to the Complaints Department of Lewisham Primary Care Trust.

On Monday of this week I called the surgery at 8:10 in order to make an appointment for myself and my son. I was offered an appointment at 15:00 Tuesday (the following day) with the locum doctor, and I accepted it.

On Tuesday I arrived at the surgery at 14:55, checked in with the receptionist (as is the correct procedure) and was told to proceed to the waiting area.

After 30 minutes, during which time I had to entertain my 3 year old in a very hot room surrounded by sick people (with no provision made for children), I went to the receptionist to ask what the situation was. I was then informed that my appointment was for Wednesday (the following day) at 15:00. The receptionist checked the screen and told me to wait for another 10 minutes as there was a free appointment that I could have.

Fifteen minutes later I was called back to the reception to discuss the situation with her colleague. This turned out to be the practice manager. I was informed in no uncertain terms that my appointment was for the following day, that I had made a mistake, and that was the end of the discussion. I protested and reassured them that the appointment was for Tuesday; I had checked in and the receptionist told me to go to the waiting area. They were not willing to accept this and insisted that I had made a mistake, even after I pointed out that I work on a Wednesday and was, therefore, unlikely to have made an appointment that I could not attend.

The manager was very surly and gave a grudging apology on behalf of the receptionist, but he clearly was not sorry and was merely trying to get rid of me.

I was very upset and left the surgery, in tears, after over 45 minutes of waiting and contacted my husband, who called the surgery.

He spoke to the office manager. He was initially told that it was my mistake and it, therefore, did not matter if I had waited for 45 minutes or 1 hour and 45 minutes, but eventually the manager admitted that the receptionist who made the booking must have made a mistake and this was compounded by the receptionist that checked me in as she should have seen the error and informed me. The manager did not know why I was told to wait as there were no available appointments.

My husband asked the office manager what he intended to do to rectify the situation and was told “nothing”. He asked if the surgery did home visits and was told they did, and so he booked a visit for 16:40 that evening. My husband then rushed home in order to be here when the doctor arrived, but the doctor did not come.

As a result of this we have not been seen and we will have to attempt to make an appointment for next week; due to the booking system I cannot call to book the appointment until Monday next week.

The PCT asked the office manager to reply, and he did.  Frankly his reply was a tissue of lies, clearly he had been involved in a totally different incident and it was all my wife's fault!  We decided to not pursue the matter any further as she was very distressed by the events and it was clear it would be his word against ours.  As he was intent on lying, nothing would come of it.

The second incident started when I attended the surgery on the 26th of July. 

I am self-employed and so I try and arrange my appointments in the morning as it disrupts my day the least.  A few days before my appointment I received a phone call asking me if I would mind moving the time from 9:15 to 16:45.  I said I did mind, but as I had no alternative I would move it.

I arrived at the surgery on time (having left my office at 15:45, thereby loosing 1 hour 45 minutes of work time) and went to the receptionist to check in.  I was told that I did not have an appointment and anyway Debbie was off sick.  I objected and said I DID have an appointment and was not happy about the situation.  I was faced by blank looks from ALL staff in the reception.  I asked what could be done about it and was told nothing.  When I pressed I was offered appointments with other nurses, all at least a weeks away.

I asked to speak to the office manager and was told he was on holiday and so I asked to speak to someone in a position of responsibility. 

Dr Laurence came out and was told by the reception staff that I had no appointment and had turned up incorrectly.  She told me that there was nothing that could be done, and that she was busy, and left.

I had no choice at this point but to take the offered appointment.  This was on the 14th of August at 9:15 (3 weeks later!).  This left me extremely upset.  I asked for the office manager to contact me upon his return.  David took my details and told me the manager would be back on the 30th.

I went to a local chemist, that I am friendly with, and was explaining what had happened (to make myself feel better) when another customer (that I had never met before, but had overheard me talking) said that he was not surprised; this appears to be a regular occurrence at this surgery and they, especially the office manager, have a reputation for being rude and unhelpful.  At this point several other customers all agreed.

On the 30th I had no call.  Several days later, I had no call.  Eventually I got fed up of waiting and called the surgery myself.

The office manager told me that there was no appointment on the system for me.  He could see the morning appointment, but that had been cancelled, and he could not see who by.  I asked him to investigate why the afternoon appointment had not been booked, and he reluctantly said he would.  He then promised to call me back.  I have received no call from him.  I then asked why he had not called me and he told me that he had not come back on the 30th and David had made a mistake telling me that that was when he came back (this did seem a bit odd as the 30th was a Monday, which would be a logical day to return to work).

The Plot Thickens.

When I came to see Debbie on the 14th of August I explained all this to her and that I was very upset by this.  I did not want to see a different nurse as Debbie was aware of my condition (and my Diabetes) and I wanted continuity of treatment. 

She looked on the booking system and found that indeed the 1st appointment had been cancelled (she could also see who had made the change!!), and the second appointment was on the system at the time that I said.  I was shown as a “no show” (if that is on my records I would like it removed).

She had been in her room and had been waiting for me (it was a 30 minute slot).  It is very rare for me to miss an appointment and she had wondered what had happened to me.

Debbie then asked me to document this in order that she can bring it to the practices attention.  The fact that they are gaining a bad reputation in the community is not something that should be taken lightly.  Not only has my time been wasted and my condition not treated for weeks, but a 30 minute appointment slot was also wasted (and we all know how rare they are).

Final Words

In case you are wondering, there have been other incidences of poor “customer” service at this surgery, but I have chosen to highlight these 2 as it would take too long to detail them all.

I have posted this on a public forum in order to give the practice a chance to respond.  But based on their past actions I do not think they will.

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