This is an open letter to, well, anyone who controls budgeting in the NHS really. I will be copying the bulk of it and posting it off to my local branch of PALS (the Patient Advice & Liason Service) and the board of trustees at my local hospital, but if you can think of anyone else who might be able to help (or think I need a major rewrite!), please let me know. Anyway. Here we go (blanked out the name of my local hospital and Neurologist as this is online, the names will of course be in the printed letter):
I am writing to complain about the Neurology services at my local hospital, specifically the continued absence of one of the consultants in the Neurology team and the lack of clinics which has resulted from this. I am sympathetic to the fact that Mr XX has been ill for over a year now, and understand that illness is not something which can be overcome immediately. However, the lack of a temporary or permanent replacement to the Neurology team means that I have not seen a consultant Neurologist since November 2009 - a period of 19 months.
I recently received my third appointment cancellation, which requested that I phone the hospital to rearrange my appointment once again. When I rang the neurology department I was advised that at present there were no clinics available for patients of Mr XX, as he remains on sick leave.
I have uncontrolled epilepsy, and my condition fluctuates from month to month. At the time of writing I have seizures that occur between daily and once or twice a fortnight, which causes a significant interruption to my life. My condition has worsened considerably since my last appointment with a consultant, and this is obviously something which I am desperate to discuss with a specialist, as it affects my ability to live a normal life.
I also have two young children, both below the age of four years, and as a result of the nature and frequency of my seizures, my partner has had to take on the role of full-time carer to supervise me whilst I am looking after them. This has obviously had a great and negative impact on our family as a whole.
I am writing, therefore, to request additional clinics to be held at my local hospital for neurology patients. I am aware that I am "not the only patient" in this position as I was informed when I registered my dissatisfaction with the situation with the appointments department, but as this means that presumably there are many other patients with neurological complaints that have not seen a consultant in well over a year, surely this warrants the funding of additional clinics to help those patients. Neurological complaints often require specialist attention, and can have a profound affect on the patients' quality of life. They are also often very serious in nature and require constant monitoring. The interruption in my ongoing assessment and lack of access to the tests which only a consultant neurologist can refer me for has had a very negative effect upon myself and my immediate family, and will likely have had similar effects upon that of the numerous other patients who were also under Mr XX's care.
I have sent a copy of this letter to the PALS, in the hope that they can direct me to an appropriate course of action to secure treatment for myself. Please understand that I appreciate the awkward situation the ongoing sickness of a colleague can present - I have been that colleague myself, more than once, when my condition worsened to the point that I could no longer work.