Appointment booking fiasco – they should be tongue tied

| Be healthy, Family, Family and Children, Lifestyle, Observations

Be prepared for a ranty post!

I mentioned the random and surprising diagnosis of N’s tongue tie here, and it’s been a long waiting game to actually get an appointment through.

I’m astounded at how inefficient and inconsistent the system for booking NHS referral appointments seems to be.  We were seen by 2 GPs at our practice within a week in late May/early June (one had previously specialised in paediatrics so they wanted to make sure before referring us which was good).  We discussed our preferred choice of hospital…obviously I want to go to as local as possible and I was surprised to hear we could choose our town’s hospital.  Lovely.  Referral letter along with the ‘choices’ turns up soon after with our choice and two other hospitals local to our partner surgery (to complicate things, we live almost in Warwickshire, and although our GP is in Oxfordshire as are we, the other two hospitals were Warwickshire ones).  Fabulous.  They say you have choices, and can find out more about the hospitals, but I just presumed, local is handiest, and surely they’ll all do a good job although we might have a few months wait.

Then the palaver of trying to book began.

Some hospitals allow online booking…not those in Oxfordshire.  So it’s a case of sitting and trying to get through to the booking line (with your password and ID number).  In my case, I then discovered the system was down and they couldn’t book anything for us anyway.  They suggested leaving some dates we couldn’t do (given it was over holiday season) so they could pass those on to the hospital we’d chosen for them to book an appointment.  I was told I’d receive an appointment letter within 2 weeks.

Two weeks go by, and no sign of any letters, so I ring up again to be told the relevant hospital department have my information and it’s all in hand.  But you can call the department and check.

Try that, get basically told off for calling the department because that’s not allowed and they can’t tell me anything, and to ring the booking line.

Try the booking line again.  That hospital are really busy, we’ll send them an email reminder of the details to make sure you’re on the list.  If you still don’t hear anything, you can ask your GP to go directly to them.  In the meantime, I received 3 more letters from the NHS central booking line reminding ordering me to make my appointment.  I was TRYING!

Couple of weeks, try the doctor’s secretary who does some chasing for me (not before telling me the GPs shouldn’t be telling me the wrong information and that the booking line confuses things too).  She was the first person to tell me that our local hospital does its own thing, not booking until a few weeks out from the appointment, and that it’s a 14 week wait.  A wait I could live with as I was expecting that.  But then she asks if I want to swap to the other county’s hospital as that’s only an 18 day wait!  That’s insane how different the waiting times can be.  But I wanted to wait to see whether she had any progress before agreeing to a shorter wait but more distance to trek if we needed to go backwards and forwards for various appointments.

After the discussions with the secretary who was brilliant, I was expecting to receive a letter mid-August for an appointment sometime in September.  Imagine my surprise when we got home yesterday after picking up N from nursery to find an appointment letter…for this Saturday.  Yes, 2 days time!  Nothing like short notice, especially during peak holiday season.  Even more astonishment, when it was for a totally different hospital that wasn’t even on our list of three choices.

Luckily we can make the appointment, but because it’s Oxford, the park & ride buses there don’t go on a Saturday, so we’ll have to drive and allow for the nightmare of finding extortionate parking on site.  Here’s hoping it’ll be quieter because it’s on a Saturday and that the wait won’t be too long.  I’m not sure what to expect – I was anticipating that he’d first have to see a speech therapist before seeing the specialist because we don’t really know how it’s impacting his speech, and if they say he can have it snipped, I’d want to make sure it’s definitely required and impacting things.  I don’t think the OH would want him undergoing general anaesthetic unless absolutely necessary, although I’d rather something was done now if needed, rather than waiting years.

The first nightmare of actually getting an appointment is over, let’s see what other awkwardness and further appointment hassles we get on the journey to a solution.

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