Frail pensioner calls for revamp of system after appointment runaround
A 75-YEAR- OLD man with chronic heart failure is being forced to travel 200 miles to attend a medical appointment a month after he could have had the same attention 12 miles from home.
David Pearson, from Seil has already waited more than three months to be seen by a consultant – despite the best efforts of his GP and medical practice.
At the beginning of August Mr Pearson, an Isle of Seil resident consulted his GP Dr Miranda Barkham at Easdale Medical Centre with throat symptoms.
Mr Pearson was told by his GP that she would refer him to the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) clinic as an urgent patient.
Mr Pearson said: ‘Subsequently I received a letter from Lorn and the Islands hospital outpatients department to say they would not be able to offer me an appointment for at least 12 weeks, but that I could apply to the Vale of Leven Hospital, hopefully to be seen earlier.’
It was not until September 24 that Mr Pearson got a letter offering him an appointment on December 16 at the Vale of Leven – a trip of 200 miles to the hospital and back.
Mr Pearson continued: ‘I was speaking to Dr Barkham and said I was concerned that should I have cancerous material in my throat it could metastasize [spread] several times by December 16.
‘She carried out the examination on October 26 and said she would try to get an earlier appointment.
‘On Friday October 30 I was telephoned by the practice manager at Easdale Medical Practice who told me she had been trying to get an earlier appointment at the Vale of Leven but had only succeeded in bringing the date forward to December 9.
‘I said that as I had remade another appointment at Glasgow Royal Infirmary to coincide with the existing one, I would let things stand.
‘I then asked when the next ENT clinic took place at Lorn and the Islands.’
Mr Pearson found out that there was a clinic on November 20 but that is was full and that the consultant will not accept any one else to the list.
At that point Mr Pearson learned that because he had ‘chosen’ to go to Vale of Leven, he had been removed from the list to see the consultant in Oban.
He said: ‘If this is the system I feel it needs urgent revision. I feel the surgery have done their best for me but the rest of the system is falling down.’
Confirming the events, a spokeswoman at Easdale medical centre said they were unable to comment on any patient within the practice.
An NHS Highland spokesman aid: ‘Due to patient confidentiality we are unable to comment on this specific case.
‘However, when a patient is referred by their GP for a first outpatient consultant appointment we have a target of seeing the patient within 12 weeks of the referral being received.
‘If we are unable to offer them an appointment locally within the 12 weeks we then look to provide that patient with an alternative from the specialist hospital (usually in Glasgow), which provides our local service or they can decide to wait locally for the next available appointment slot.
‘ We will also be in contact with the patient concerned to discuss the issue further.’