I’ll cut to the chase, I won.. well won is probably strong but my complain against Porterbrook clinic was successful, although interestingly the major point of my complain was successful due to a point I didn’t make!!
I had a formal apology for them mis-handling my transfer from CHX as they shouldn’t have re-assessed me, this they admint ‘probably’ delayed my moving onto T-blockers, although it didn’t effect my Hormones. Hopefully this has raised their awareness of the issue at the very least and any future transfers don’t have this delay in their treatment.
The second point I made was centred about delays in my second opinion appointment for surgery and again they agreed that Porterbrook was at fault, although not exactly on the grounds I gave them. I guess this might have been because part of my complaint was surrounding future delays, rather than actual delays. They said that agreed that there are actual delays and that’s good, but also, and more importantly, have put in place a plan to limit any future delays.
Essentially they told me that Porterbrook, being one of the smaller clinics in the UK, discusses all patients in meetings with all consultants, so even if you don’t see a particular consultant apparently they can’t be considered to be ‘independent’ for the purposes of clinical referrals for surgery. The fact they can do it for hormones (which also needs two referrals in effect) does make this slightly strange, however, and if any medical professionals who read this would like to comment I’m all ears.
However it turns out that currently Porterbrook only do referrals for surgery every 3 months, which means my first referral won’t go through until this month, 4 months (or near enough 18 weeks) since I had been on hormones for 12 months and thus falling outside the 18 week NHS contract. As part of a procedure update this week be reduced to a month for future patients, so that’ll help them, but for me the big ‘win’ is that they are going to contact all gender clinics and arrange an appointment as soon as possible. Obviously if this comes back as anything more than a few weeks I’ll be carrying on with the complaint as, because I’m currently on the treatment path, and it’s a single appointment for second opinion, it shouldn’t be subject to any waiting times commonly suffered by people waiting for their first appointments.
So while it’s not the end of the story, it shows complaints DO work and are worth doing, in the right situation. If you are going to complain I would look at two things. Firstly as to whether the complaint is sensible, if your complaining about waiting for your initial appointment, then it’s probably be better to be proactive and try to find somewhere with a shorter wait time. Secondly make sure you understand the grounds for your complaint and make sure you refer to the regulations, procedures and guidelines the NHS works to when making your complaint.
Saying ‘XYZ gender clinic is crap with horrible delays’ isn’t likely to get far, but make it a proper, well written, complaint with clear aims at what your trying to achieve through the complaint. Refer to the aforementioned procedures, include a run down of your life and treatment to the point, and connect the dots so it’s clear what the basis of your complaint is. Also suggest solutions, and make them sensible, I suggested three, and Porterbrook came up with a 4th, if the timings for the 4th are ok, then that’s great, if not, then I can just go back to my suggestions and fight harder.