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Jane Bates: Don’t let the bad fairy handle patient complaints

Even with a well-run clinic schedule you can’t please everyone

Even with a well-run clinic schedule you can’t please everyone


Picture: iStock

Some days I run a clinic on my own, which means seeing 15 patients in three hours – that’s 12 minutes per patient.  

Add in other factors, such as chasing up hospital notes and patients arriving late, with some needing extra help, and this is pared back to about eight minutes per head. 

I have to break it down like this to keep focused – I’ve known some of the patients for years and it’s all too tempting to chat.

Unusual grievance

It’s a tight schedule, but it’s the only way I can get to the ward for the lunchtime operating list. Patients are happy with this arrangement – it’s a quick visit so can fit painlessly into their working day – and it means their eyes are being examined regularly. Everyone’s a winner. Or are they?

‘He was standing between me and the door. It was in my own interests to be conciliatory, albeit in a tight-lipped kind of way’

This week my neat little strategy was blown to smithereens by an angry relative with the most unusual grievance; his wife was being seen too often. 

To be fair, she has diabetes and is being monitored by the hospital, as well as the GP and the diabetic screening service, but it's not because we have nothing else to do.   

Eyes on the clock

Just as well I had one eye on the clock or the bad, sarcastic fairy on my shoulder might have made things a whole lot worse. 

‘Write to your MP. Go to the national papers,’ the bad fairy nudged me to say. ‘Tell them the NHS is working assiduously to stop your wife from going blind, and you’re appalled at their sheer lack of negligence.’

I didn’t give in to the bad fairy because nurses don’t, and he was standing between me and the door. It was in my own interests to be conciliatory, albeit in a tight-lipped kind of way.

And, as ever, I was only too aware that time was ticking on, and duty called elsewhere.


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire 

 

 


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