Compliments and Complaints

In this section you will find summaries of real complaints we have received, alongside information about how the Trust has investigated and reponded to them.

We intend to update this section every two months.

June 2014

Complaint Summary Trust Response Summary

Ms Y’s mother had very recently had a mole on her neck removed and was informed that it was cancerous.  The patient was advised that the hospital would contact then within two weeks to give them an appointment for further tests to see if it had spread further.

The patient hadn’t received a call so rang the hospital and was advised that they department was unable to meet the two week deadline given.

The patient is now on the Orpington Hospital waiting list.

The Trust investigated and offered their sincere apologies.  The Trust advised that the demand for urgent suspected cancer referrals, particularly for dermatology, has increased significantly which has put the team under pressure.  

The complainant was informed that as the patient had a confirmed diagnosis of cancer she should have been referred directly to the consultant team and not via the suspected cancer route.  The hospital will be working with GP’s to support them in ensuring that suspected and diagnosed patients with cancer are referred to the correct point in the hospital.  This will ensure that appointments are offered to meet the right clinical urgency and that your mother’s experience of having a cancer diagnosis and feeling that there was too long a wait.

Staff from the urgent suspected cancer referral team contacted the complained to advise that a consultant had reviewed the patient’s results and offered an urgent appointment.

Ms X recently attended for her 20 week abnormality scan.  At the time the sonographer was unable to see the heart of the foetus and therefore asked her to come back within 1-2 weeks to try again. When Ms X tried to make the appointment she was advised that there would be no appointment for 3 weeks.

It was only when Ms X challenged that that the staff looked further into this and double booked booked an appointment within the timeframe.

In addition Ms X also had problems with an earlier scan where she was continuously invited for scan far too early (at week 9).  Ms X told the maternity unit and her GP, but received further invitations.  In the end Ms X attended one of the appointments only to be told that she had to come back another time.

Ms X advised that she had decided that at the next appointment (obstetrician appointment due to previous complications), she will ask to see the midwife at the hospital rather than at her GP’s.  This is because the midwife I am currently assigned called my son a health & safety hazard when he came with me to my initial appointment and therefore did not take any bloods.

With regard to the misunderstanding about Ms X’s earlier scan, the Assistant Service Manager confirmed that the referral letter did not contain a LMP (Last Monthly Period) date.  Therefore, a dating scan was booked for the patient to ensure accurate dating the pregnancy.  An appointment was sent out, however coincidentally a further referral was received from the GP which did contain a LMP date.  An apology was given for the inconvenience and distress caused.

To minimise the risk of this happening to another woman a new process has been introduced in the antenatal clinic whereby all scan referrals are seen by the lead midwife assigned to the clinic, before the booking scan appointments are issued.

With regard to rescheduling the 20 week scan appointment, the Trust acknowledged that they are currently having difficulties booking these appointments due to a shortage of scan slots. Due to the high demand for scans, the capacity for these tests is currently under review with the aim of increasing the number of slots.

The Senior Midwife reviewed the community midwifery aspects of the complaint.  As this was Ms X’s first appointment with the midwife it would have involved a detailed discussion on aspects of pregnancy, a risk assessment being completed, and the Midwife would also take a full medical history.  Part of the consultation involves making informed choices about screening tests available and services provided at the Trust.  The midwife then takes blood tests if the patient has consented to antenatal screening.

During the appointment the Midwife found it difficult to have these discussions and take the blood for screening.  She was concerned that Ms X’s son was very active during the appointment and damage could be caused when using the needles and containers to take blood. 

Ms X was advised that the Senior Midwife had met with the Midwife and shared Ms X’s concerns so that she can be reminded of the importance of how to communicate with women in her care effectively and sensitively.  The Midwife apologised for how she communicated to Ms X and offered assurance that she had not intended to cause offence.  Her communication with women will be monitored.

The Senior Midwife has arranged for the patient’s antenatal care to be provided by another midwife.

Mrs Y has a long term condition that frequently causes her to go into spasm, she has been treated for this at Lewisham Hospital for at least the last 15 years. 

Mrs Y was admitted via the Emergency Department (ED) with a severe spasm and was taken to resus where she received a frankly superb service by both the medical and nursing staff.  A bed was found for her on Chestnut Ward.

An essential part of Mrs Y’s treatment is constant availability of Entonox.  It is an aspect of the treatment that is of great importance to Mrs Y. 

There has historically been a major difficulty in the availability of this Entonox at the point when Mrs Y comes to be transferred to the ward from ED.  On some occasions, when Mrs Y was assured that Entonox was available on the ward, and went up without bringing with her the cylinder from ED, none was in fact available and for some time after.

On other, more numerous occasions, there has been a cylinder on the ward, but no delivery unit for the gas.  The uncertainty about this has always caused her great anxiety.  Often, to allay that anxiety and perhaps also to ensure that there was in fact a continuity of supply to her, the ED sister has permitted the ED cylinder to accompany Mrs Y to the ward.

The Trust investigated the concerns raised in the complaint letter relating to Mrs Y and the experiences that she encountered when being transferred to Chestnut ward.  The Matron for Chestnut ward apologised that Mrs Y had experienced problems with Entonox supply on a number of occasions.

The Matron acknowledged that this was not acceptable and she recognised that that the lack of Entonox would add further stress to the situation.  The Matron advised that would like to overcome this problem and has discussed the matter with the Senior matron.  As a result an action plan has been put in place to ensure that Entonox will be available on the ward.

The Matron has identified a cylinder and mouthpiece with tubing that will be kept on the ward for the patient’s sole use, and has been labelled as such.  The Matron has also alerted Senior Staff nurses to this so that they are aware.

The Matron has also laminated Mrs Y’s treatment protocol and will keep a copy on the ward and a further copy with the Entonox.  A copy was also included with the complaint response.  Copies of the protocol have also been given to each Senior staff nurse on the ward.