Hospital ordered to clear backlog of follow-up letters

It has been revealed that about 700 people have waited up to three years for the letters to be sent from their specialists to their GPs.

The order follows Medical Observer’s report last week of the backlog, with one case in which a patient had died one year prior to a letter being sent from the hospital to Penrith GP Dr Adrian Sheen.

The letter, which advised Dr Sheen that a specialist at the Westmead Hospital’s Cancer Care Centre “would be happy to [see the patient again] if you felt that was appropriate”, arrived 108 weeks after the consultation for which he had referred the patient.

The letter indicated that it had been dictated by a specialist on 21 August 2009 but was not typed up until 16 September 2011.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner has ordered a review and given Westmead Hospital, in Sydney's west, three weeks to clear the stockpile.

"It's unacceptable," Ms Skinner told