Wednesday, 23 January 2019

More patients criticise NHS after-care provider

A HEALTHCARE provider accused of failing to provide aftercare for a stroke patient because she lived in the wrong county has received dozens of similar complaints.

Patients say that Healthshare, which provides musculo-skeletal services on behalf of the NHS in Oxfordshire, has left them waiting months for appointments or failed to answer phone calls or emails.

Last month, the Henley Standard revealed that Chrissie Godfrey had been refused physiotherapy treatment at the Royal Berkshire Hospital because she lives in in South Oxfordshire, not Berkshire.

Mrs Godfrey, 76, of Birch Close, Sonning Common, broke her leg in in a fall when visiting Blenheim Palace in July.

Her husband Derek, 82, took her to the Royal Berks where she underwent surgery and spent a week recovering before returning home only to suffer a stroke days later.

She then spent another five days at the hospital, which is about five miles away from her home.

After her release she was not offered after-care and when she enquired about physiotherapy she was told it was not available to her because she lived in South Oxfordshire. As a result, she had to pay for after-care to avoid travelling to a hospital further away in Oxfordshire.

Fellow Sonning Common resident Dirk Jones complained that he had the same experience when seeking after-care hydrotherapy for an elderly relative for whom he cares.

Reviews of Healthshare posted on the NHS website reveal that dozens of patients across Oxfordshire have had similar problems with the provider.

Some say they were not contacted for months to arrange physiotherapy sessions and when they were, these were often at places a long distance from their home.

Others say they had to book an appointment months in advance and others that phone calls and emails were not answered.

Healthshare has an average rating of two stars out of five from more than 40 reviewers on the website.

One anonymous user, who awarded the provider one star, said: “I have been waiting since June 2018 for an appointment for physiotherapy on my shoulder. Finally, I get a text from the team asking me to contact them to make an appointment — What happened to them ringing me?

“On contacting Healthshare, they couldn’t even offer me an appointment at my surgery. What was the point of asking me to get in touch to make the appointment if they have nothing to offer?

“The earliest appointment they could offer me was Janaury 23, 2019, miles away from where I live.”

Another one-star reviewer wrote: “I have been waiting since May 2018 for an appointment and thought the end was near as I was offered November 29 only to be cancelled. I now have to wait until the end of January 2019.”

Ray Young, from Oxford, said: “Pretty disgraceful by any standards. Things obviously are not working as they should at Healthshare so take notice somebody and rectify this shameful state of affairs.

“The only time the average patient can have any confidence in our health service is in the case of an emergency.”

A Healthshare spokesman said: “We are very aware that we had some real problems with patient contact early on in the service, which the whole team has been working hard to put right. We did record a number of complaints regarding telephone contact and wait times in the first few months.

“We inherited a very large backlog of patients from the previous provider, Oxford Health, of about 12,500 patients, some of whom had been waiting seven months for an appointment.

“In addition, the referral numbers we have received were way above that predicted by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group when they procured the service.

“Consequently, we did struggle and have apologised to patients and patient groups as well as providing a full report to Healthwatch and the commissioning group on improvement plans.

“We note that, while unacceptable, these problems have been limited to a very small proportion of the 60,000 patients we have seen this year and that wait times and contact services continue to improve.

“Overall satisfaction and clinical outcomes are very high.”

A spokeswoman for the commissioning group said: “The negative reviews on the website and any other feedback or complaints are reviewed and the information is used to continually improve the service with Healthshare.”

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