"My experience with Outpatients"

About: The Alfred

(as the patient),

In my opinion, I had another horrible experience recently with The Alfred Outpatients clinics and customer care.

I believe the approach by a specialist physician appears to be responsible for unnecessary delays in referral from Neurology to Orthopaedics clinics. While radiology has classified my condition as end-stage, the referral from Neurology to Orthopaedics issued in February 2019 rather than in December 2018 during my consultation (as advised by the Neurologist) has still not been actioned in Orthopaedics. This is likely because the Neurologist had determined my rather concrete case of spinal cord and vertebral pathology suffered a number of years ago, which has since led to further pathology is psychological and related to menopause, which I have not yet entered. This is not a medical opinion or a sloppy attempt at holistic care, but I believe is blatant sexism leading to an inability to apply medical reasoning. I felt like I was being burned at the stake rather than seeing a doctor.

The referral has been with clinic administrators for 2.5 weeks and no appointment is in sight. After calling Outpatients, staff complained I had them on speaker because I am hard of hearing. As soon as I said, I am not happy... attempting to tell her I am not happy with the customer service, she began to interject and talk over me. This happened several times until she settled down and we then resumed normal conversation. After asking for her name (simply first name), so that I could make a note of it, she put me on hold again - I had already waited over 13 minutes to get through in the first instance - whereupon a male answered the phone - on speaker phone. I could not hear him (response: Oh, I can hear you perfectly!) and after trying for around two minutes to ask for him to fix the call at his end, I had to terminate the call. This response by both staff, in my opinion was clearly used as a tactic to terminate the call and prevent communicating the first name of the staff I had been speaking to.

I feel the tactic was punitive and humiliating. This is not the first time I feel I have been mistreated by staff on the phones in Outpatients. The staff, in my view, are rude and just don't want to help. Why is the notion a patient is hard of hearing so difficult to fathom for staff working on phones in a hospital? The fact that email communications - another mode of communications offered by Outpatients - are ignored, exacerbates the problem the department seems to have with customer service. Until the humiliating response to me asking for her name, I had been reasonably satisfied with her calming down sufficiently to stop talking over me, after I had attempted to provide feedback. However, the way in which the call was closed after I asked for her name, I believe was the second inappropriate response to my inquiries and attempt to clarify what is going on in your departments that prevents appointments being made or communicated to me (i.e. so I can actually attend them).

Please don't tell me I don’t have the right to inquire about your services and the right to access care, when in practice, the attitudes of staff is in breach of my rights and I believe borders on negligence. I am so tired of being treated, in my opinion like I am a hypochondriac with no medical condition by your staff. I suggest your staff undertake training in dealing with clients with compassion and respect. It is absolutely disgusting that your staff seem to enjoy responding punitively to clients who are already suffering from seriously medical conditions.

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