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Overworked/Overbooked


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#1 Elvis

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 06:54 PM

I phoned my rheumatology appointments desk to change an appointment I have in August for an earlier date. I was told that this was the earliest available month to book for an appointment with the rheumatologist. If I wanted to see the nurse then they could fit me in for 3 months time. Receptionist was very apologetic but she just said there wasn't the space to book.

Do others have a similar problem or are all rheumatologists as busy?

#2 Joelf

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 03:22 AM

Hi Caz,

I think it does depend on the hospital but I suspect that most rheumatologists are very busy. Whenever I've been to The Royal Free the Rheumatology department is heaving and I usually take a book with me and/or manage to engage some poor unsuspecting person in conversation whilst I'm waiting!! :lol:

My appointments were every 6 months (now they've been moved to once a year as I'm also being dealt with by The Royal Brompton and my local hospital) so I haven't come across the problem you describe. In fact the opposite was true in my case; I've had a bit of a problem with the Cardiology Department getting them to make an appointment for my Echo in a year; they seem determined to give me one for 6 months time. :emoticon-dont-know:

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#3 Amanda Thorpe

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 03:57 PM

Hello Caz

I am afraid that waiting seems to be part of the NHS these days. I have an appointment with the rheumatologist in March and know that if I tried to rearrange it I won't get another appointment for months. Like Jo has said the rheumatology department at the Royal Free is always heaving, so is the cardiology department and the ICD (pacemaker) clinic. The good news is that however long the wait I get to see scleroderma specialists and get the best care available in this country.

Take care.
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#4 lizzie

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 03:00 PM

Hi Caz, although I have never had to change an appointment for the rheumatologist, I think that it would be a similar wait where I live. However, at the hospital I go to, it is very easy to see the rheumatlogist if you have a new problem that you are concerned about and that you feel won't wait until your next appointment. There is a rheumatology help line which is manned by rheumatolgy nurse specialists 3 mornings a week. You can speak to the nurse and outline your concern and they then discuss it with your rheumatologist. They ring you generally, the same day, with advice or if they feel they need to see you they ask you to go to the rheumatology ward when the rheumatologist is there. I have never had to wait more than a day or two to be seen with a problem.
Do you have a rheumatology helpline where you go?

Lizzie

#5 Elvis

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 07:57 PM

Hi Lizzie,

No, I don't have a helpline to call. I do have a number for the Rheumatology nurse but it's a case of leaving a message on an answerphone. I've done this twice but have never had my calls returned. Had my official diagnosis March 2010 so all still quite new to me.

#6 lizzie

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 01:50 PM

Hi again Caz, it must be very frustrating when they don't get back to you. If you really do feel that you need to see/speak to the rheumatologist now rather than waiting, you could ring the rheumatologists secretary (the hospital switchboard should be able to put you through) and ask if you could arrange to speak to him/her- the consultants I know will talk to patients on the telephone- the worst they can do is say no. Alternatively you could write a letter to the rheumatologist. You shouldn't have to wait three months to speak to someone if you have a problem. If all else fails go and see your general practitioner and if it is not something they can answer/deal with they will be able to seek the opinion of the rheumatologist.

Lizzie

#7 Amanda Thorpe

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 02:57 PM

Hello Caz

Hmm...it's not acceptable to have your phone messages ignored. Perhaps leave another message stating two previous messages have not been returned and if this one isn't you're going to complain...and then complain. I am a patient at the Royal Free and have unfortunately had to make a complaint or two, nothing to do with the specialist nurses, and they take complaints seriously as should any hospital.

Lizzie makes a good suggestion about speaking to the rheumatologists' secretaries, that's what they're there for. Give them a try.

Take care. and keep posting.
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#8 Elvis

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 04:27 AM

Thanks so much for advice. All of it good. None of us want to complain but never getting calls returned is unprofessional and rude!

#9 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 11:52 AM

Hi Caz,

I'm not sure this would work for you, in your particular situation, but what I do is take nearly all of my health concerns first to my primary care doctor (or urgent care if the matter is very serious and my doctor is unavailable). I also rely a lot on nurse's lines for assistance as some of them can provide a wealth of information, especially about whether I can do anything to self-treat or how long I can wait to have it seen or treated.

It is truly amazing how much primary care clinics can handle on the spot and then those records can be useful for any future specialist appointments. The rheumatologists don't want us saving up all our symptoms just for them. They want us to have complete medical care in the meantime, and then they review the overall medical picture. There are a few exceptions to this, however, as I've heard of people sometimes having their rheumatologist as their primary care doctor. I think it makes it confusing for the rest of us, as then we expect to have the same comprehensive care package. But that doesn't happen in most areas because there is a huge shortage of rheumatologists, in general and they are often overbooked many months in advance (even here in the US).
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#10 Robyn Sims

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 08:00 AM

Hi Caz,

It was interesting to read all the replies you received.

I thought you might be interested to know that here in Australia the same problem occurs. It can take months to get an appointment. When you are diagnosed with something like scleroderma you have so many questions to ask. Sometimes when first given the diagnosis everything is a bit of a blur.

I agree with all the other posts. Your general practitioner is so important. Keep a diary of what is happening as it can get very confusing after a while. Unfortunately there will be lots of tests and perhaps other specialists to see, so a memory jogger is a great idea.

Also, have a few notes with you when you finally get to see the rheumatologist. There is nothing worse than leaving the surgery and remembering an important question you had forgotten to ask.

#11 bendofislands

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Posted 29 March 2011 - 12:04 AM

I have experience in both United Kingdom (London) and Australia (Melbourne). I spend about part year in each place, having worked in UK for years, now retired to Australia. It seems the same in both places with public hospital regarding the time you wait for an appointment. The worst is when you need to change an appointment for good reason and that puts you a further 3-4 months away. It is very difficult I know. Let me suggest that you ring the clinic every week at least, asking about cancellations. Continue to be pleasant on the phone, but be quietly persistent. Sometimes this works.

After one year I still haven't got to see the specialist in Melbourne (yes I did go away for 2 months and yes that was when they made an appointment). I was so frantic with worry about having P.H. (heart/lung involvement) I got a plane and was able to pick up my Royal Free appointments having jiggled previous ones. I know when I get there I will see the 'best in the business'. I value the fact in Melbourne I can ring (3 days a week) specialist nurse who will usually return calls and does give me some basic information and does seem to have ability to book tests. The consultant at Royal Free had referred me to Melbourne hospital and knew the specialist and was most surprised I had not yet seen her. I feel so lucky to have had these consultants who are top world experts seeing me. I had given up on the medical profession regarding Scleroderma before I finally was able to join the clinic at Royal Free. Those of you in London, just think how lucky you are to have this level of expertise. It is a pity with so much waiting that someone can't organise a better system and improve that dreadful corridor area where people trip over one another, no room for wheelchairs or oxygen cylinders and people shout names out of door out of site etc etc. Small criticisms for a wonderful hospital.

#12 night owl

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 04:29 PM

Hi

Appointments seem to be like buses they always come in pairs. I have joint care between a Rheumatologist and Dermatologist and their appointments are supposed to be equal distances apart but it does not always work like that. Sometimes you have to cancel and some Trusts - if you cancel give you the next available appointment which can be months away.

I fortunately have access to a help line to Rheumatology advice which is given by a Specialist Nurse in Rheumatology and they have helped me on more than one occasion, when you can’t get an appointment, when things flare up and things are not looking good. They can ask the Rheumatologists advice and help when you need it is at hand. Wonderful!

Is this the norm?

Gil

#13 Joelf

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 12:42 AM

Hi Gil,

I'm not sure if this is the normal procedure at other hospitals but I'm a patient of The Royal Free and they also have a similar system whereby there is a specialist nurse helpline which I can ring if there's a problem between appointments, the same as you have stated.

I think the amount of help and advice available does vary a lot, depending on the different health trusts and whereabouts in the country you live. Like you, I have been very lucky and received fantastic treatment and care, but sadly I'm afraid some of our other members have not been so fortunate.

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