This week, on one single morning, I got three NHS letters in two envelopes from the same London hospital, all posted from Bristol and all written on the same day, five days earlier.
The first told me (in paragraph 2) that my appointment to see a doctor at 10.30am on Friday 18th June had been cancelled “as part of our response to the COVID-19 outbreak”.
In paragraph 3, the letter explained that, although the second paragraph “states your appointment has been ‘cancelled’, this is not the case. You have been placed on a waiting list.”
Attached to this letter was a second letter saying: “We’re sorry but we have had to cancel your appointment” at 10.30am on Friday 18th June.
Both these letters were in the same envelope.
In a second envelope which arrived at the same time on the same day was a third letter dated on exactly the same day as the first two letters.
It said: “This letter is to confirm that a telephone appointment has been made for you at 10.30am on Friday 18th June. When you have a telephone appointment you are not required to attend the hospital.”
So basically, entirely reasonably, to avoid people attending the hospital in person during the COVID-19 outbreak, my in-the-flesh appointment at 1030 on Friday 18th June (over four months away) had been changed to a telephone appointment at exactly the same time.
To do this, I was sent a letter saying my appointment was cancelled but not cancelled… an attached letter saying my appointment was cancelled… and a third, separate letter saying my appointment had been changed from physical to telephone.
All that I needed to receive was one letter saying my appointment had been changed from physical to telephone, not three letters, all sent from the source on the same day.
Have I mentioned before how much I hate mindless bureaucracy in general and what an administrative mess the NHS is?
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4 responses to “The mindless administrative mess that is the UK’s National Health Service…”
You should raise this with The Minister at The Department of Administrative Affairs. The response will be that to change a standard letter issued by a single key stroke that generates three different but essential standard letters to the same person whilst informing several departments of the change is essential in effective running of the appointments system. Whilst admitting that this does appear to be wasteful and confusing, particularly if the three letters received by the patient are opened in the wrong order, to alter the system requires the employment of a number of consultants and support staff over a period, it’s estimated, that may extend over several years because there is no central office for administration within the NHS. You’ll recall the failure of the government proposed computer system to link all the the NHS computer systems into one seamless system. It’s considered that to fix this issue, which is considered mostly harmless, would take in the area if £736,000,000 and therefore not worth doing… in addition, all of the ministers friends are all current,ply overstretched in other government projects they’ve been awarded so won’t be able to start work in this until at least 2037.
This is the same bureaucracy that, when medics were crying out for PPE, refused to deal with many suppliers who had stockpiles of exactly the right equipment, in date, authorised for medical use, refused to purchase it because that particular supplier couldn’t be added to the procurement system due to a lack of past dealings.
Every once in a while there’s a cry out for everyone in the NHS to receive a pay rise or bonus due to the hard work they’ve done in fighting the pandemic.
While I wholeheartedly agree that every single person in the NHS who has been right there in the hospital, facing danger, risking their own health as well as that of their families should get something I’m still very reticent to make it a blanket award as I don’t want to reward those who made it more difficult or who simply did their job from home at no additional risk to themselves or others.
I tend to get two letters for most appointments. One they give to me at the hospital after the previous appointment, and the second one gets posted. I did mention this but they said it was anantomated proceedure that could not be changed.
Yes it is the efficient work of computerised automation. Once there would have been a thinking clerical worker managing your appointments. But computers are cheap to employ even if they produce three contradictory letters where one would suffice