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Cheltenham diabetes patient's anger over appointment refusal

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: October 02, 2013

Comments (5)

A DIABETES patient is furious after being refused an appointment with a doctor, despite being given the chance to see a specialist nurse.

After long-term diabetes sufferer Michelle Heather from Charlton Kings became seriously ill with the condition earlier this year, she decided to seek help from a diabetes consultant at Cheltenham General Hospital.

However, despite a referral from her GP, she was refused an appointment with a doctor and told to see a specialist diabetes nurse instead.

Miss Heather has been attending a diabetes clinic in Oxford since being diagnosed with Type 1 in 1971. But with her condition worsening she now wants to switch to Cheltenham.

She said: "With my sugar levels as they are currently, it is unsafe for me to drive myself such a distance, and as a full-time carer looking after my elderly, disabled mother, I have to leave her totally alone for about four hours when I travel to Oxford.

"I thought perhaps seeing a diabetic consultant at Cheltenham General may be easier, as the hospital is less than a mile from where I live."

Although Miss Heather was offered an appointment with a specialist nurse, she said she needs to see a doctor to properly discuss the way forward for treatment. She added that experts at the Oxford clinic had told her she should see a doctor in Cheltenham.

"I know that I need to discuss the options available to me about changing my insulin type and even going on to an insulin pump," she said.

"I also need to see someone who understands the implications of hormonal changes on diabetic women. This is something that I do not consider a diabetic specialist nurse would have sufficient knowledge about."

Miss Heather said she will be forced to move to Oxford for specialist care in the future if Cheltenham General continues to refuse to give her an appointment with a consultant.

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "When our Diabetes Services receive a referral from a GP, we review the information we have been provided with to ensure our patients are seen by the most appropriate person at the most appropriate time.

"In this case, Miss Heather was assessed to need to be reviewed initially by one of our highly-skilled diabetes specialist nurses with subsequent review by a diabetes consultant. This decision was based on the information we received in her referral letter.

"If Miss Heather and her GP feel that this is not the most appropriate approach, we would urge them to contact us to enable us to find out more about her needs and to address her concerns."

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  • Louise9099  |  October 02 2013, 5:49PM

    I have had diabetes for 32 and despite a spell at Uni, I have always been looked after by the diabetes team at Cheltenham General and have nothing but praise for them. Unfortunately there are waiting lists, so moving clinics and seeing a consultant in Cheltenham for the first time, may mean following the correct procedure (behind other people) This argument comes up all the time against the NHS. People demand to be seen when they choose but there are waiting times and procedures due to the demand of a free service. If assessed by a nurse and are deemed as an urgent case you will been seen by the correct person asap. If this were that urgent surly the clinic in Oxford would have advised rather than referring her! I am having trouble with my sugars at the moment, and have had all the conversations the lady requires with the nurses who were more than capable of advising! Plus the team are always at the end of the phone to help and advise, if I don't have a consultant appointment coming up. It may take a few hours for them get to get to me, but I understand that I am not the most important person on the planet. If this woman would prefer no care, than specialist care from an expert team of nurses and dieticians, with huge amounts of experience and willingness to help, more fool her!

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  • Kay_Powell  |  October 02 2013, 3:09PM

    You're talking about a woman who has had diabetes for over 40 years. She probably knows more about the condition that the nurse does. If she wanted to see a consultant, she should have been able to. Booking appointments takes ages; if she'd had to make one appointment to see a nurse and then another to see a consultant, that wastes time.

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  • raidermanuk  |  October 02 2013, 2:49PM

    Seems like a reasonable procedure to me too. There's a lot at stake here so why not go with the flow and see if the nurse provides adequate advice. Nothing to lose really and everything to gain!

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  • Mudbox  |  October 02 2013, 10:40AM

    Just seems like a procedure; see the nurse first and then see a consultant after that.

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  • agent006  |  October 02 2013, 8:06AM

    " This is something that I do not consider a diabetic specialist nurse would have sufficient knowledge about " What evidence and clinical training are you basing that libelous statement on?

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