Staff crisis puts patients on hold

A STAFFING crisis meant there was no receptionist, and not enough nurses to do hearing tests for ear patients who turned up at Ipswich Hospital.Appointments in the Ear Nose and Throat clinic were delayed by an hour on Wednesday and when irate patients finally got to see a consultant, they were told their hearing tests would have to wait until enough staff were available.

By Tracey Sparling

A STAFFING crisis meant there was no receptionist, and not enough nurses to do hearing tests for ear patients who turned up at Ipswich Hospital.

Appointments in the Ear Nose and Throat clinic were delayed by an hour on Wednesday and when irate patients finally got to see a consultant, they were told their hearing tests would have to wait until enough staff were available.

Angry Ian Heeley from Felixstowe, who waited for more than an hour after his scheduled appointment time to be seen, had to collar a passing nurse from another clinic to try and get a replacement for the absent receptionist.

The man who organised a petition to help get nightly ambulance cover reinstated in Felixstowe, was not impressed at his latest taste of the NHS.

He said: "Everybody was having to wait well beyond their appointment time, and the woman who went in before me came out saying there were not enough staff to do her hearing test.

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"I was told I would have to wait until my next appointment in three months' time to have my test done."

He added that a nurse was supposed to have been on duty but could not be found.

A spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital said: "We are very sorry to learn of this gentleman's concerns. We were suffering from staff shortages in that clinic because of staff sickness.

"Because we had quite a lot of staff sickness at the time, we couldn't arrange the normal receptionist cover.

"We understand the clinic was running late because the doctors were dealing with a complex case. We apologise that patients waiting were not told about this because there was no receptionist.

"The outpatients manager visited the clinic during the afternoon to apologise personally and explain why there was no receptionist and the reason for the delay.

"All patients waiting were given the opportunity to speak to one of the on-site Patient Advocacy and Liaison managers, and also given comments forms.

"We do appreciate how frustrating it can be but the problems were caused by genuine staff sickness."

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