Someone I know recently asked their doctor if they could have an important procedure carried out at Newark Hospital.
But when their letter came from Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust it confirmed only an appointment at King’s Mill Hospital, Sutton-in-Ashfield, with no mention of Newark.
They reasonably assumed, therefore, that this service was only available at the bigger hospital but, when phoning to cancel it transpired that this was not the case.
An appointment for precisely the same thing was immediately offered at Newark, with an explanation that a policy of ‘first available’ was followed.
When it was pointed out that Newark Hospital was the first and only choice of location, the trust employee seemed content with that response.
Concerned at this apparent lack of recognition for a patient’s rights in nominating a preferred hospital for treatment, we wondered if others would have also assumed they had no option in similar circumstances.
Later, when attending Newark Hospital, and sitting alongside another local person awaiting the same procedure, we heard they had a similar experience.
Having clearly asked to be seen at Newark, they too had only been offered an appointment at King’s Mill.
Only when needing to rearrange that appointment were they actually advised of the availability of the equivalent service here.
Because we have previously had such good treatment at Newark and wish to support its continuing existence and future development, I asked for an executive response to what had happened.
The hospital manager said he was aware of anecdotal evidence that suggested some patients had not been offered appointments in line with their stated preference for Newark.
He said this was the first hard evidence he had received and agreed to look into the matter.When he came back to me, he acknowledged that the trust had been at fault, but felt it was only in this one specific area and where confusion existed over technical issues.
Staff he spoke to at King’s Mill gave an assurance that, previously, all those stating a preference for Newark were offered that option first if the treatment or consultation was available.
He could not say how trust staff writing to some patients had failed to record that option when offering them their appointments.
I wonder how many others have found themselves not being offered the opportunity to be seen or treated in Newark and have then assumed they had to go to King’s Mill with all of the travel problems and inconvenience that can entail.
While it is laudable that the trust seeks to offer earliest appointments, at King’s Mill in particular, it has a wider duty to support our local communities and uphold all patients’ rights. — COLIN MEASURES, Swinderby (Full address supplied).