...to complain about my obstetritian's secretary?

(41 Posts)
Hedgehead Mon 12-May-14 18:44:37

The secretary has made a series of multiple cock ups. Told me I have appointments at scan places and with specialists when actually I don't. When I've got there, no such appointments exist. She has taken days/weeks to return calls and emails and keeps losing my number so after any one call where she says she'll "call me right back," I have to call again in 5 hours and she'll tell me she's "lost" my number (despite the fact it should be on my records?)

When I have turned up for appointments - BIG appts - like the nuchal scan and with various specialists (as I have a rare disease I have other specialists involved with the pregnancy) - I am told I am not on the list. This has happened FIVE times.

Instead of admitting her mistakes she has lied to my face, giving me "fake" appointments so I stop hounding her, sending me on a wild goose chase to other buildings, getting to the reception desks and them saying "there's no record of you having an appt here." The worst one happened last week when I was supposed to see my ob at 11am on Wednesday. I got there and they said there was no record of my appointment. I called her, it rang out, so I left a message and I got a pathetic email back 2 hours later saying actually your appt is at 3.45pm in X building. I go out again and get to the new building at 3.45pm and guess what? No appointment.

I decided to just find another ob, but then got a really lovely email from him (the ob) saying he hoped everything was okay and he was sorry for the mix up - that he was quite pushed that day because he had a delivery in the morning which put everything back and it was all his fault. Fine... however I scrolled down and he had forgotten to delete the message the secretary had sent to him.

"This woman is loopy. Thought she had an appt with you when she didn't on Wed. How would you like me to respond?"

She is lying! To him and to me. Having a good bedside manner, he is not responding to me like a mad person and taking the blame himself. But her lies - maybe it's my hormones, but I am incensed. I even have the paper trail to prove that she is telling lies - of her telling me that I have appointments when I don't actually have them.

I am going to look even more loopy if I go to my appt with him this Wednesday (which he and I have agreed to without her involvement) with the "evidence."

He is a great obstetrician and is one of the only specialists in the disease I have in pregnancy/birth. She is his ONLY secretary and the person through whom I have to go to get to him, for the rest of my pregnancy. I don't want to make an enemy of her.

I am not thinking straight, hormones... - should I be annoyed? And how should I approach this with him?

If you have actual evidence then raise an nhs complaint and inform the obstetrician that you're doing so

Obviously insist on all appointments in writing

TooTiredToBeCreative Mon 12-May-14 18:47:32

I would go on Wednesday with your evidence! Once or maybe twice you could accept but she has done this several times and then tried to make you look bad to cover her mistakes! I would be furious!

SistersOfPercy Mon 12-May-14 18:51:20

Hmm, I wonder if he had 'forgotten' to delete that or if he'd left it in there in the hope someone would raise a complaint.

If she's as bad as you say then there will be more than you who have complained. I agree, raise an official complaint, the email alone is unprofessional. Go for her!

WitchWay Mon 12-May-14 18:53:20

He will know she's bad. Complain to him - he may be looking for an excuse to get rid of her. My DH has a dreadful NHS sec & nearly has enough evidence to get rid now.

Nomama Mon 12-May-14 18:54:23

Put together all emails, texts, write down what you remember from phone calls and take it to him.

Just the 'loopy' comment is enough. But make sure you calmly tell him that his staff have made your ability to access healthcare at risk. Sod her feelings, she is paid to do a job. Make sure she does it.

Get her to email all appts in future. Tell her why. Let her know you will not accept her game playing any more - start off by requesting confirmation of your next appointment as a reply to his email that included her loopy comment. Let her know you know!

Dear Secretary,

Given the email exchange below I would like you to confirm details of all appointments by email in future.

Yours, loopy pregnant woman.

Whatisaweekend Mon 12-May-14 18:58:08

FFS how difficult is it to make phone calls and appointments?? I would go to the appt on Wednesday with all your evidence and talk him through her lies and incompetence. You will be doing him a massive favour (and everyone else who is suffering through her monumental ineptitude).

Cornettoninja Mon 12-May-14 19:02:13

I work in nhs admin - complain.

It does seem that sometimes things just keep going wrong for one patient, but she should be profusely apologising. I do think there's a shift the blame culture in a lot if departments and it's shit. Nobody ever owns up to mistakes for fear of looking crap or saving face. It means genuinely crap people don't stand out because the first thing that happens when something goes wrong is everyone starts pointing fingers away from themselves.

I second the advice to make a list of what's gone on. Don't worry about making enemies, if anything you'll be flagged as someone not to fuck up on. She'll probably get either training, an action plan to improve or shifted to some other poor consultant. Don't worry about her.

Shame really as that should be standard.

Monmouth Mon 12-May-14 19:09:24

If its his NHS secretary you have the usual pathway for complaints. If it is his private secretary then she is employed by him and you would need to bring it up with him directly.

IAmNotAMindReader Mon 12-May-14 19:22:21

Complain and give copies of your evidence to the consultant, health authority and PALS. You have stated you have a complex history this could be life threatening, if not you but someone else who doesn't feel confident enough to insist they are seen.

Any advice would depend on whether this is an NHS or private secretary.

macdoodle Mon 12-May-14 19:26:11

This doesn't sound like the NHS to me, are you abroad/US/private. I don't know a single NHS sec who communicates with patients via email. That aside you must complain she sounds dangerous.

atos35 Mon 12-May-14 19:30:23

Yes you need to complain. But bear in mind your obs will not be her line manager, it will be someone else within admin and so you need to ask who her line manager is and contact that person directly. By all means tell your obs but he may not actually be able to do anything. If she's like this with you it's likely she's been like it to others and there will have been previous complaints. She is not providing good patient service and the issue needs addressing. Alternatively complain through pals (if this is NHS).

Hedgehead Mon 12-May-14 19:33:38

This is NHS! She communicates via email because it's easier for her to hide her mistakes rather than having to give answers "live" on the phone.

Thanks for your responses. I'm going to complain! Will take everything on Wednesday and go through the official route...

FTRsGotAShinyNewNN Mon 12-May-14 19:35:34

How very insulting to pass off her own incompetence as being your fault, that's massively unprofessional.
Make copies of all of the emails, make a note of phone calls or face to face contact and make an appointment with your hospital PALS team, mention it to your OB and say you're taking it further.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Mon 12-May-14 19:52:16

I would reply to his email saying

"Further to Ms X's email on date, time (see further down this thread) I attach evidence that I am not "loopy" but instead that Ms X made the appointments wrongly. I also attach evidence of 5 other similarly serious mistakes by Ms X.

As you are aware I have a serious health condition and the impact of these errors could be very serious indeed.

It has also led to a significant amount of stress at a time when I should be trying to remain as calm as possible.

Current estimate of financial losses due to her errors are (give any transport and loss of pay suffered).

Please can you let me know:-

1. How I can complain about Ms X's severe incompetence and also her incredibly unprofessional attitude in trying to cover up her errors by shifting the blame, insulting patients and being highly derogatory about patients with mental health issues.
2. How In future I can make appointments with you without having to have any further dealings with Ms X as I have completely lost all faith.

I would prefer to hear back from you before my appointment on Wednesday but if I don't I will discuss it with you then.

Yours......"

Hmmm - I feel much better for writing that! I'm so angry just reading what happened! Not sure if the email makes you (me!) sound extra loopy but it really was enjoyable to write!

pudseypie Mon 12-May-14 19:55:58

We complained a few months ago about ds paediatricians secretary as she was deliberately being unhelpful and I normally have a lot of patience! My dh asked to speak to her boss who was a team manager I think for the secretaries and since then she's been great and we now get on very well! I think you definitely need to complain - good luck

ForalltheSaints Mon 12-May-14 20:00:21

Definitely complain. If she was good at her job she would not have put her opinions in writing.

If it's NHS then your obstetrician will not be her manager. The best bet would be to forward the e-mail and other evidence to the PALS department or the Clinical Governance department.

Icimoi Mon 12-May-14 20:28:35

I'll bet you're not the only person to have had this problem, and I suspect the Obstetrician himself has suffered from these mix-ups. Frankly, you have massive cause for complaint on the "loopy" comment anyway - it's incredibly unprofessional and, for someone working in the health service, incredibly insensitive.

Cinnamoncookie Mon 12-May-14 20:40:32

^^ what everyone else said about documenting everything. Put it in a clear chronological list with every tiny detail - when you phoned her, how long it rang, what you said in your voicemail, how many emails she has sent, what building you were told to go to, etc etc etc.

This is beyond belief - I wouldn't stand for it if it were regarding treatment for an ingrowing toenail, but when it's the health of you and your baby shock

RevoltingPeasant Mon 12-May-14 20:46:51

OP complain.

My consultant's secretary is nowhere near as bad as that but this year alone she has made two erroneous appointments for one correct one. Luckily I found out about the last one before I went as I had to ring up about something else and one of her colleagues spotted the error. The secretary later apologised on the grounds that she was quite new and didn't know how to operate the consultant's calendar, cue me feeling bad - it emerged later that she had been in the job over 5 months!

And no, unlike normal people in the twenty-first century, they are ordinarily incapable of using either email or voicemail which is ridiculous in a modern office.

That email alone should be grounds for a disciplinary. Complain!!

Itsfab Mon 12-May-14 20:53:43

Mumofyounggirls - where does it say the OP has MH issues?

Melonbreath Mon 12-May-14 21:17:48

Complain complain complain. I worked in NHS admin and i hated people like this as they got paid to not do their jobs and everyone else had pick up their shit.
I would make a LOT of noise, the people surrounding her will probably silently thank you.

gobbin Mon 12-May-14 21:33:54

Mumofyounggirls - where does it say the OP has MH issues?

It doesn't, but the secretary called her loopy, which is pejorative term highlighting the sec's out of date attitude towards mental health in general.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now