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"Box Hill Outpatients Clinic appointments"

About: Box Hill Hospital

(as the patient),

I have been a patient at Box Hill Hospital during 2015 for a number of related surgeries after being diagnosed with Prostate Cancer and finished the year off with an Open Radical Prostatectomy late in the year, (there are also a lot of things I was not happy about then and I should have written about them). However this complaint is about the inadequate phone answering system and appointment booking system now in use. Clearly the manager that had this new system implemented has never had to use their own system. If they did they would discover some startling facts - the system clearly does not work, let alone efficiently. Perhaps if some of these managers were replaced with Admin Staff the customer service would improve greatly.

For example: I attended the Public Urology Clinic for an appointment. Some considerable time after the consultation I was asked to make another appointment for 3 months time to get the results of my second PSA test. I was told I could not book that far ahead and would receive by mail on my next appointment date. Then received a letter in the mail for an appointment. The next day I tried to ring and change my appointment. After listening to all that corporate information about how good Eastern Health is and the message about a good way to change appointments by email, provided I give 48 hrs notice, I did exactly that. I requested the date be changed to make it 3 months as requested by the doctor. This was closer to 85 days notice and should be enough I thought. I then received a text message reminder for my original appointment just prior to that date. So on the next day I tried to ring again. I gave up after 5 mins waiting after once again listening to the corporate information and then hearing I was number 15 on the list - I gave up. That afternoon I rang again and heard that same message about emails and thought, "Hey, I know they don't work, I tried already". After waiting 69 minutes and hearing all those messages repeatedly and the count down on the waiting list I finally got to speak to a lovely friendly sounding person Dianne who then informed me that the month I requested was already booked out and I would have to wait until the next month. I grumbled a bit and we brought the appointment forward to the end of the month that I was hoping for, even though she was told she is not to overbook the appointments. It's not a concert I am booking for, I have had Prostate Cancer, with a series of complications so it should be understandable that I am still a bit anxious about how I am progressing with the recovery process. To have to keep listening to all the corporate information that is presented on the phone continuously each time whilst being messed around and I find it insulting. What happened to real patient care, or is it called customer service these days? Is it all about the bottom line for the Eastern Health budget rather than Health Care for the community?

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Response from Alan Lilly, Chief Executive, Eastern Health 8 years ago
Alan Lilly
Chief Executive,
Eastern Health
Submitted on 7/01/2016 at 7:53 AM
Published on Care Opinion at 11:22 AM

picture of Alan Lilly

Dear Glenfern

Thank you for sharing your story on Patient Opinion. I am sorry that you have experienced these issues and problems in using our systems and I certainly do empathise with you in this regard.

I can also assure you that the management team of the Outpatients Clinic is very committed to making improvements and I know that they will be sorry to read that we have fallen short. Due to rising demands for our services, we are now receiving just under 200,000 Outpatient referrals per year and the management team has put in place a number of improvements to streamline processes. We have also created more clinic space across the Health Service and we are also in the process of recruiting more staff. However, I recognise that this did not help you on this occasion.

Following earlier feedback, we have indeed made the email contact system available and promoted that via our "on hold" message as an alternative to waiting. I was sorry to read though that this did not improve things for you. I have also personally called the Outpatient Clinic number previously so that I do indeed understand these issues first-hand and I also ensured that our email options had been added.

All in all, I can see that your experience was not a good one but I can personally assure you that we are actively working to improve our reception, booking and scheduling processes. I can also understand that this does not put right what has already passed but your feedback does serve as a timely reminder as to what is important for our patients and what we need to focus on in the long term.

With regard to your comments on the "bottom line", it is certainly not just about the bottom line but in fact, Eastern Health does have a responsibility to live within its means and any savings which we make are only ever directed to higher priority demands in the organisation. It's always about trying to strike the best balance and regrettably we don't always get it right or spot-on everyday but that is indeed what we aim to do.

Thank you again for taking the time to provide your feedback Glenfern and whilst I know that the "proof is in the pudding", you can be reassured that we are committed to making things much better.

kind regards and best wishes for the new year, Alan Lilly

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