Hospital follow-up took 765 days

IT MAY set a new record for health bureaucracy – a Sydney hospital took 108 weeks to type a short follow-up letter to a GP about a patient he had referred.

The patient died during the 756 days it took Westmead Hospital’s Cancer Care Centre to finish the 228-word letter to Penrith GP Dr Adrian Sheen, head of grassroots lobby group Doctors Action.

He said although the death was unrelated to the time the letter took to arrive, the delay was an insult to the patient and showed GPs were “below the bottom of the food chain”.

“This is an absolute, utter disgrace,” he said.

The letter, seen by MO, states it was “dictated on 21 August 2009, typed on 16 September 2011” and continues: “Thank you for asking me to see [the patient] here in the clinic.” 

After discussing the patient’s situation, it ends: “I have not made any arrangements to see [the patient] again