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"Such a long wait and process for elective surgery"

About: The Townsville Hospital

(as a relative),

I am writing this on behalf of the person that I call my “mum” but as Townsville Hospital refers to as a Reference Number or as a Cat 3 or 2 or whatever number she is classified as. I cannot start to explain the frustration/disappointment and even anger and sadness that I am feeling at the moment in the way that Townsville Hospital organise/categorise their elective surgeries.

My mum has been on the waiting list for an elective hip replacement since early 2013 and yes I do understand that it is an elective procedure and that we do have to wait as public patients, but I feel like my mum has slipped through the cracks in the first twelve to eighteen months when one of her surgical appointments were cancelled due to emergency theatre and then later when the doctor had a stroke.

Since roughly this time last year my mum has had roughly five or six procedure dates that have been cancelled/postponed.

She has received paperwork and a procedure date for a knee replacement when she is actually on the list for a hip replacement.

I do understand that two of these dates were to do with my mother’s chest problems, but had the operation been done on the first two dates (when the surgeon took unplanned leave) and before we got into the weather when people who have respiratory problems flair up I feel that she would have been fine. The decision was made by the anaesthetist to postpone, even though we had seen the respiratory doctor just a week before who had told us he could not see a problem and why mum's surgery should not go ahead.

The reason for this letter is my concern that my mother had a phone call to say that her operation was changed again. Apparently the surgeon would not have enough time to do her surgery on that day and she would need to present in a few weeks when the surgeon would have more time to do her operation. I’m not sure if that is the correct reason, but that is the way that my mum understood the message. I understand circumstances change but seriously do they not assess each case at an individual level and their history to see what impact it has on the patient. The anaesthetists have told us there will need to be an ICU bed available on the day and if not her operation will have to be postponed and then if this happens we then are at the start of the season where patients with respiratory issues have problems, then we'll go back around the roller coaster ride again.

We have been to countless pre-admission clinics to be told that at TTH they are doing everything they can to work with my mother and myself for the best possible outcome. We have been reassured that she is still a candidate for her operation and are aware of her high risk factor. However, due to the number of times her surgery has been postponed, I feel this is unacceptable and if they were really working in the best interest of my mother she would never have been postponed in the first place.

I do understand that my mother does have an extensive chest history, she has been an asthmatic almost all of her life, but she has been a very active and independent person who I have seen slowly decline especially in the last few months which I believe is due to the pain in her hip which now has extended to her knee. Her foot is starting to roll outwards and she has severe pain in her back. She has had to give up work which she had been doing for 20 years, she has had to give up all her active hobbies which are all things my mum has done for years to keep herself as active as possible for her asthma. We are now in a catch 22 position as they keep telling us they are concerned about her chest, but they do not have to watch my mum deteriorate and be in constant pain due to her hip. We do not have any control over and cannot do anything about her chest problem that is the hand she has been dealt with from an early age. But her hip is something that I feel we can try to address, as if she does not get this fixed soon she will be not be able to mobilise due to the pain. Then she will not be able to do any exercise, have less independence and she will then have more chest complications.

I have said many times at Mum's appointments that it is easy for the specialists to give us all the doom and gloom, but they do not walk in my or my mum's shoes and yes we have weighed up the risks, but surely my mother cannot be the only person that has asthma or an extensive chest history that has gone for an elective hip replacement.

I’m not expecting this to change anything for my Mum’s operation, but maybe if processes are put in place and people are looked at and categorised accordingly to their health needs, my mum would not have waited for so long.

I am ashamed of the amount of money that I think that has been wasted on unnecessary appointments which includde the cost of myself taking a sick/carers leave day, my mum being able to claim patient travel and because I am in a front role position I am replaced for that day. I have submitted countless leave forms only to have to cancel them and actually on one occasion I took two weeks Rec Leave as I felt bad cancelling my reliever again on short notice, only be told the same things that have been said before at the previous appointment. We get sent to the “person centred care” training where I feel my mum is more of an occasion of service and not a person.

It is really hard when you work in the industry and are sitting in the seat as a patient’s carer/family member and feel like you are going nowhere and that no one really cares about your family member as a person but as a reference number/a category number. I can relate to and understand why some people in the public get very annoyed.

I have refrained from placing my concerns earlier as my mum is one of those easy going, doesn’t like to rock the boat or complain type of people, but I am concerned that if her operation is postponed again and she gets another bout of chest problems it will probably be another 6 months before she will be looked at again in which time she will obviously deteriorate even more, not just with her hip problems but her chest and she will then not be a candidate for elective surgery.

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Response from Julie Shepherd, Nurse Manager Patient Experience, Patient Services; Clinical Governance Directorate, Townsvillle Hospital and Health Services 6 years ago
We are preparing to make a change
Julie Shepherd
Nurse Manager Patient Experience, Patient Services; Clinical Governance Directorate,
Townsvillle Hospital and Health Services
Submitted on 19/04/2016 at 3:33 PM
Published on Care Opinion at 5:57 PM

Dear feeling frustrated,

Thank you for taking the time to share your story about you and your mums experience with our Hospital elective surgery service. I am really sorry to read about your concerns and absolutely understand why you are feeling frustrated and disappointed.

I am upset to hear how your experience has left you with feelings of being angry and sad and that we are treating your mum like a number or an occasion of service rather than valuing her as a person. I apologise to you and your mum that this is how you have experienced our service.

You have highlighted for us a concern that requires further exploration which I thank you for. We would like an opportunity to discuss your Mum’s experience in more detail so that we can explore the issues you have raised. I encourage you &/or your Mum to contact staff in our Patient Liaison Service on 4433 1074 so they can work with your mum to discuss her circumstances further.

Please be assured that I will inform our Surgical Service Group Director of your feedback as a matter of priority.

I again, apologise that you have experienced our service in this way and you can be reassured that the story you have shared with us will be used to build improvements based on it.

With kind regards,

Julie Shepherd

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Update posted by feeling frustrated (a relative)

I am feeling really disappointed that it has been two weeks since I shared my story and after two follow up phone calls on my behalf as well as sending through a signed third party consent. I am yet to hear from anyone to discuss my concerns regarding my mum.

Response from Julie Shepherd, Nurse Manager Patient Experience, Patient Services; Clinical Governance Directorate, Townsvillle Hospital and Health Services 6 years ago
Julie Shepherd
Nurse Manager Patient Experience, Patient Services; Clinical Governance Directorate,
Townsvillle Hospital and Health Services
Submitted on 4/05/2016 at 10:42 AM
Published on Care Opinion at 10:47 AM

Dear feeling frustrated,

I am sorry that you are still feeling disappointed with our health service. I would like to reassure you that, since your contact with our Patient Liaison Service, our surgical team have been in contact with your Mum to address the concerns you raised. I understand this has resulted in a positive outcome for your mum.

Thank you again for sharing your story on Patient Opinion,

with kind regards,

Julie Shepherd

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