Outcome of chats with patients in St Lukes out-patients
I and a fellow governor recently chatted with 30 patients in St Lukes Out-patients. We did so on two different days to learn of their experience. This was a follow-up to a similar exercise 6 months ago.
All patients thought their treatment was excellent and that the staff were professional and friendly – that is good and the important bit. However there were negative aspects:
· Waiting times for pharmacy prescriptions from the St Lukes pharmacy were often far too long sometimes well in excess of an hour. The hospital used to engage a specialist company to deliver drugs to patients’ homes but the service was withdrawn about a year ago because of safety concerns – this was missed.
· Waiting times to see the consultant/registrar/nurse specialist were often too long. It is not uncommon for waiting to be over an hour and up to 2 hours. Whilst patients were extremely understanding and tolerant this is not good enough.
· Waiting times for blood tests and the opening times of the St Lukes phlebotomy clinic has improved since our chats 6 months ago but still a worry.
· A number of patients did not know their Cancer Specialist Nurse (CSN)
· There was lack of knowledge about the Fountain Centre.
Our report is being appropriately pursued with a number of people but the waits for pharmacy and waits to be seen were in particular raised by me at the Council of Governors meeting 16 July.
The head of pharmacy produced an excellent response. Waiting times for 94 patients had been analysed. The average was 36 minutes but the longest was 1 ½ hours. 12% were in excess of 1 hour. Whilst dispensing of often complex prescriptions can be time consuming this was not satisfactory.
However more staff are now being recruited and a full review is underway which will be part of much wider review of processes in St Lukes. It was agreed that there would be the following quality performance targets
· 10 minutes simple medicines
· 30 minutes oral chemotherapy medicines
· 45 minutes clinical trial medicines.
Additionally possible ways of delivering medicines direct to patients’ homes or perhaps to nearby local pharmacies will be explored.
I considered this a swift and very satisfactory response. A further report on the position will be given to the Council of Governors meeting next January to ensure progress.