"Psychiatric assistance"

About: Royal Prince Alfred Hospital

(as the patient),

March 2018 – appt with my rheumatologist. I am severely sick when I take methotrexate. I have to take methotrexate because it is the only drug that successfully treats my rheumatoid arthritis and my pruritis. My rheumatologist gave me a referral to a psychiatrist who works with RPA rheumatology dept, for possible referral to psychologist.

I tried a few different ways to take methotrexate. Still sick.

One month later I rang the psychiatrist. The psychiatrist's receptionist told told me the psychiatrist was away until the end of the month, but the receptionist would give the psychiatrist a message to call me.

One month later – No word from the psychiatrist, so I ring the psychiatrist again and left a message with the same receptionist.

One month later – I ring the psychiatrist's number again, and speak to the same receptionist, left a message.

One week later – no word from the psychiatrist, so I call the psychiatrist's pager. I spoke to the psychiatrist. The psychiatrist said the psychiatrist had spoken to the receptionist in rheumatology, and to expect a call.

A few days later – I missed a call from the rheumatology receptionist. I tried to call back on the number left by the receptionist, but there was no answering service and phone rang out. Eventually, after a few days, I managed to call when the rheumatology receptionist actually answered the phone. The rheumatology receptionist said they had arranged an appointment for me on a particular date with a registrar. The rheumatology receptionist didn’t know the name of the registrar.

About three weeks later, on the appointed day I met the psychiatric registrar. The registrar was half an hour late for the appointment, and told me during our conversation that the registrar didn’t realise the appointment had been scheduled until I requested the rheumatology receptionist call the registrar to get an estimated time of arrival. I didn't catch the name of the psychiatric registrar. There was no documentation after the appointment. The registrar told me a letter would be sent to my GP to discuss psychology counselling.

Two weeks later – my GP still hadn’t received a letter. I managed to get hold of rheumatology reception who told me to wait to hear further.

A week later – I rang rheumatology reception again, and I was told that the psychiatrist said a letter would be sent soon.

A week later – still no letter. I rang rheumatology reception and was told the letter had been sent to my rheumatologist (despite my GP’s name being on the original referral letter). I gave rheumatology reception my GP’s name and phone number and fax number. The rheumatology reception did at that point tell me the name of the psychiatric registrar.

A few days later – I missed a call from someone else in rheumatology reception saying they hadn’t been able to fax the letter, and could I please give them my GP’s details again. This different person gave me a different number, and I tried and tried to call it many times but no one answered it and there was no answering service and the number rang out. I tried the original rheumatology reception number and no one answered that. I tried the psychiatrist's number and a receptionist working there said they'd try to help.

As of nearly four months after I initially telephoned with the rheumatology psychiatrist because severe nausea was affecting my ability to take a medicine that was extremely important to treating my disease the letter had still not been sent to my GP despite my GP's name being clearly on the referral, and despite me repeating that name at least twice to rheumatology reception.

I think this story reflects badly on RPA and it has increased my feelings of desperation about the effects of methotrexate.

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