Hospital admits appointments mistake

HOSPITAL bosses have admitted a mistake which led to 29 patients waiting longer than 13 weeks for an outpatients' appointment.Andrew Reed, chief executive of Ipswich Hospital, said yesterday he was “disappointed” and “unhappy” at the blunder, which was discovered during a routine audit of outpatients' referral letters.

By Danielle Nuttall

HOSPITAL bosses have admitted a mistake which led to 29 patients waiting longer than 13 weeks for an outpatients' appointment.

Andrew Reed, chief executive of Ipswich Hospital, said yesterday he was “disappointed” and “unhappy” at the blunder, which was discovered during a routine audit of outpatients' referral letters.

Government targets state that everybody waiting for an outpatient appointment to see a specialist must be seen within 13 weeks after being referred by their GP.


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Until now the hospital, which receives more than 270,000 referral letters from GPs each year, had a 100% record of meeting the outpatients' targets.

Mr Reed said the hospital was determined to find out exactly what had gone wrong to prevent further mistakes in the future.

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He said: “We have contacted each of the patients concerned and all have been offered appointments within the next few days.

“We are very disappointed and unhappy about what has happened.

“The evidence we have gathered already leads us to believe that a failure to follow the correct procedure is at the heart of the problem.

“We have sent a personal letter of apology to each patient affected by this.”

None of the referral letters involved in the mistake dated back further than April.

But last night patient campaigners raised the question of whether the blunder was the result of hospital cutbacks.

Cornelius Coates, former chairman of the Patient Public Involvement Forum for Ipswich Hospital, said: “If you try to make cuts there is bound to be a lower level of service. It is inevitable there is going to be a reduction in service level with the magnitude of reductions in the budget being sought.

“There is potential for more blunders but we would hope not.”

The hospital is now asking all patients who have visited their GP and been advised they need an outpatient appointment but not heard from the hospital within four weeks of seeing their GP, to get in touch with the hospital on 01473 418216 or 01473 418217.

Lines will be open from 8am to 5pm today and tomorrow .

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

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