Continuing Orthotics trauma. Luckily N has a spanking new powered chair that she is whizzing about in, that is making up a bit for her inability to stay on her feet for long. But it's a different thing, for a different reason - she needs to be on her feet.
Dear <head of the local NHS Trust>
As a follow-up to my email to you dated 1st August 2014, I continue to be extremely unhappy with the service we are receiving from Orthotics for my daughter.
Up until this week I have been happy to remain outcome focused and to just be grateful that someone in Orthotics was communicating with us. I appreciate that N is a complex case and that there is no 'off the shelf' solution. However, I have now reached the point were I have serious reservations about the Orthotics department as a whole. I feel that we have been repeatedly fobbed off; given unrealistic timescales simply to get us out of the department and off the phone; told on one hand by the Orthotist that there were no free fitting appointment for modified splints and then later told by <the orthotics manager> that this was not the case and that N should have been fitted in - with the blame being laid on the Orthotist rather than the appointment system; and even given clinical advice by the administrative staff over the phone. It appears to me that the department is at best treading water and at worst detrimental to the children who require orthotic support - despite the best efforts of the Orthotists and Physiotherapists who appear to be doing the best job they can within an obstructive and chaotic framework.
My child has now been without ankle support since the middle of the summer term. This means that she has not been able to walk. After our last appointment and subsequent meeting with <the department director>, despite his hope that N's boots and calipers would be available in two to four weeks, we took matters in to our own hands and travelled to Exeter to have some soft boots hand-made for N that give a modicum of ankle support. These cost us close to £100 in total and have meant that we have had to make choices about where that money came from. We are lucky that we have the option to budget for it and to easily travel. N still can't walk long distances with them; but they are better than nothing.
I chased Orthotics on Monday evening and left a message for <the orthotics manager>, as they had failed to contact me with any information about the boots/calipers arrival. It transpires that both <the orthotics manager> and <the orthotics director> are off this week, however, I received a call back from someone in the department and I spoke to <the orthotics's director>'s PA and to PALS. PALS liaised with <the orthotics manager>, who is apparently picking her emails up from home. <the orthotics manager> spoke to the Piedro account manager, who said that Piedro were now refusing to give a date for the boots.
I am unclear why Orthotics were able to say three weeks ago that they were hoping the boots would be in around 15th August and the lastest they would be in was 1st September if now it transpires that Piedro are not giving delivery dates. It seems unlikely to me that Piedro were giving dates three weeks ago if they are unable to do so now.
<the orthotics manager> has now arranged a delivery of Challico boots to Peacocks, which are alleged to take ten to fourteen days to come in and then a few hours to be modified by Peacocks to take the calipers. Again, I am confused as to why Challico are now being proposed as a solution, as when initially when the AFO boots and calipers were proposed we were told that Piedro were the only boots that were suitable for modification to take the calipers.
The Orthotics Department at Musgrove Park Hospital is a shambles. We are not the only family that is being let down; but not all the families are as articulate and persistent as we are and I am pretty sure others are slipping through the net. If <the orthotics manager> and <the orthotics director> have been in place for eighteen months as he told us in our meeting with him, I would expect them to have put their stamp on the department by now. If this is the case, then the Trust has the wrong people in post.
I would like to know what the Trust is doing to ensure improvement.