Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hospital Appointments.. Necessary or Not?

I was subjected to 3 hours of pure boredom today... thanks to my mother. But it also brought to light how us poor mortals who go by way of polyclinic referrals in order to pay less when we visit the specialist are subjected to "WAIT"....

My mum told me she had an Eye appointment at CGH (Changi General Hospital) at 3.20pm. This is a yearly appointment and they send continuous reminders nearer the date. Bear in mind.. the appointment was set 1 year ago.

So, knowing the normal waiting time can take up to an hour or so.. we get there at 2.58pm and she registers. Her Q number given to her was supposed to be the appointment number but it ended up being 1522. She gets called at 3.20pm to room 14 where they dilate the eyes. Then she's told to wait outside and they will tell her which doctor's room she'll be going too.

So the wait begain. I kept watching the numbers go up and go down for her room which happened to be Room 6. There were 5 doctor rooms. The crowded clinic slowly got emptier, and we were still waiting. At 5pm, I went to get tea... and the numbers were crawling.. before I left, it was at 1436.. meaning.. that person in the room had their appointment at 2.36pm!!!

Finally at 5.20pm... number 1511 was called so I turned to my mum and said.. "3.20pm appointment but 2hr wait to see doctor.. impressive!" And though we were both tired, and sick of the waiting.. we still sat there.. waiting... then.. the next thing... the doctor called a number begining with 6168... and these are the walk-in's - either new referrals or what nots.. That's when my mum lost it......

She went up to the registration to complain and was told she'd be next. She thought it was unfair for the doctor to take this walk-in instead of a pre-arranged appointment. We just walked off.. and guess what.. the doctor called her on the mobile at 6.20pm to step in for the consultation.

That's a whole 3 HOURS from the appointment time. So the questions remains...

1. What is the point of making an appointment for 3.20pm when you only get to see the doctor at 6.20pm... and on top of that... had a 'walk-in' go in before you???

2. Shouldn't appointments get 1st priority?

3. Or is it because my mum's case is a polyclinic (subsidised) referral, therefore, 3 hours waiting time is the standard???

The longest I've ever waited to see a doctor at the Polyclinic was 30 mins.. and the longest for a Specialist Clinic at a hospital was 1hr. This 3 hour wait today was beyond reason.

And I'm sending a complaint email to CGH & Straits Times Forum.

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