'A disgrace!': Outrage as Telford child given hospital appointment next February

A leader has branded the difficulty in getting hospital appointments "a disgrace" after a child received a letter saying they would have to wait 326 days.

Princess Royal Hospital in Telford
Princess Royal Hospital in Telford

The Telford youngster's family was sent a letter for an appointment at Princess Royal Hospital for February 2 next year, nearly 11 months away.

However, Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust (SaTH) blamed the confusion on an automated IT system generating the letters. They say sometimes patients will receive a letter with an appointment date a long way ahead, before a follow-up call or letter with a speedier referral time.

Telford & Wrekin Council leader Shaun Davies shared a photo of the appointment letter on social media and said: "Telford children having to wait this long for a hospital appointment. 326 days! It’s a disgrace."

Several people responded, sharing their woes over getting appointments. One said: "We have been waiting over 15 months to see an ENT consultant. Ended up going private and it turns out my child has glue ears. Not great to help with his learning at school."

Another said: "My son is waiting for operation. Meant to have been done in October/November as it down as emergency but he still waiting."

Councillor Davies told the Shropshire Star: "I was contacted by a family in Telford. They wanted me to get in touch with the hospital and to make it public about the problems with appointments.

"I fear this is not a one-off rogue appointment. Lots of people have contacted me on Facebook since and made comments saying they are having to wait a long time for appointments. It demonstrates just how broken our NHS is."

He believes it shows that the NHS "is broken", and said he is concerned that if the Future Fit plans go ahead - a move which would involve Telford's A&E replaced with an urgent care centre - it could could exacerbate problems further.

"The big fear is if the A&E closes and is replaced with the dumbed down urgent care centre, that puts even more pressure on other areas. It highlights other big issues within the system. If you've got an ongoing medical issue, you can't see a paediatrician."

Sara Biffen, acting chief operating officer at SaTH, said: “We apologise for any confusion caused to patients by letters generated by an automated IT system; this is due to be replaced as part of our digital transformation project.

“Unfortunately, patients will sometimes receive an automated letter with a future appointment date, followed by another letter or phone call confirming an earlier appointment. This is because we review referrals and appointments daily, prioritising those with the most urgent clinical needs and bringing these forward.

“Less urgent referrals may also be brought forward as we add more clinic capacity over the coming weeks. We are sorry for any concern this has caused and would like to reassure patients that we are doing everything we can to reduce the amount of time they are waiting for an appointment.”

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