Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A response from Northwick Park Hospital - shocking

Finally got a response from Northwick Park Hospital. Have to say I am disappointed, but then what was I expecting, a miracle to occur!!!

I got two letters and here they are in their fullness with names covered to protect the innocent!!

Letter one

Dear XXX

Further to your e-mail to XXX on 16th August 2005 I am pleased to inform you that the investigation into your concerns has now been completed and I am, therefore, in a position to enclose our response from XXX, General Manager for our Cardiology directorate.

I hope that you will be satisfied that a full investigation has been conducted and that XXX has outlined the action she intends to take to improve the situation in Cardiology.. However, if you are not happy with our response or if you require further information please do not hesitate to contact XXX on XXX to discuss your complaint further or if you prefer do write to me again. We can also arrange a meeting to discuss our response to your complaint if you would find this a more suitable way forward.

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the Local Resolution process you are entitled to go to the second stage of the NHS complaints procedure and request that your complaint is considered by the Healthcare Commission. This should be done within 2 months of the date of the final response from the Trust. You should write to the Complaints Investigation Team at the Healthcare Commission, FREEPOST NAT 18958, Manchester, M1 9XZ or contact them on tel: 0845 601 3012 or e-mail:

If you would like to discuss any of these options you are welcome to contact the Patient Relations Office on 020 8869 2026, or alternatively if you would prefer independent advice regarding the NHS Complaints Procedure please note that that you may contact the Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS) on telephone number: 0845 120 3784.

I hope this is helpful.

Letter two

Many thanks for your email to XXX, dated 16 August 2005, in which you express your concern regarding your experiences with the Cardiology Department. As the General Manager for the Department, XXX passed your email to me to investigate. I hope you find the following comments helpful.

As you quite rightly state, a six month delay in the typing of an urgent referral letter is inexcusable and I can only apologise that this occurred and assure you that I will not allow such a situation to occur again. Administratively, the Cardiology Department has been short-staffed for some time, and various correspondence has been delayed, but the worst back-log situation occurred in relation to XXX’s clinic letters. I have recently started as the new General Manager and one of my key tasks was to sort this situation out.

Firstly, I have made two permanent appointments within the admin team so only one temporary member of staff is still working in the Department and all posts are now covered. I have also out-sourced the typing of the XXX back-log and all the letters will have been completed within the next 2 weeks. Today, I started a month's free trial, with the same typing company, to handle all of the clinic letter typing. The company guarantee a 48 hour turn around time, or no charge is made. I am hopeful that this will provide a cost effective, efficient system. In parallel with this, we are also looking at using short, proformas for straightforward patients, to reduce the volume of typing, and making sure that all clinic letters contain a clear management plan. Additionally, the Trust is looking closely at voice­recognition technology, so this aspect of the service will be changing significantly.

I am also very sorry that your 24 hour tape was lost. In actual fact it appears that the tape was not lost as such, but the results were not saved correctly on the analyser machine. When some new analysers were introduced into the Department there were some training issues with the staff and unfortunately some results were lost. This has now been addressed with all of the technicians and all are now fully au fiat with the new machines.

I hope that this adequately addresses your concerns and I am very sorry that you have had such a bad experience with the Department. If there is anything else I can help you with, please let me know.

Yours sincerely

General Manager, Cardiac Services

As you can see a nice response, but one that I can't be sure will fix the problem, and one that doesn't really help the situation what happened in the first place.

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