Stay alert to avoid becoming a forgotten statistic
Q At the last count, 684,000 patients were on some kind of hospital list - are they at the mercy of a disorganised system?
A This audit of five hospitals does not inspire confidence. You could be termed "urgent" and end up on a list for more than 18 months. Your doctor may have referred you to a specialist but you may not have been placed on the list.
Q That's very worrying - why is that happening?
A It's due to a variety of problems, including hospitals relying on paper-based systems which are manual and prone to error.
Q Apparently some patients are being entered into the wrong list?
A Yes. There are different lists, depending on what stage of the "journey" a patient is on. Being placed on the wrong list can delay their appointment or procedure.
Q What about queue-jumping?
A There was evidence of this also, particularly in the area of cataract surgery. Some patients were referred directly to the surgical list and bypassed the outpatient queue. They tended to be referred by a community ophthalmologist.
Q I'm sure they needed the eye operation - where's the harm in that?
A No doubt they were deserving of the surgery but they were leaping ahead of other patients.
Q Have you any advice? I don't want to be a forgotten patient.
A If you are on a list, ask your GP to request one of their staff to make a check on your behalf.
Don't take it for granted that all is progressing as it should. It's like having a tracker mortgage - be alert if you can.