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The great NHS communication breakdown

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 04 July 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a664
  1. Peter Davies, general practitioner, Halifax, Yorkshire
  1. npgdavies{at}

    If you want to see why the NHS is a failing organisation consider these selected examples, chosen from a wide field.

    A patient of mine had a heart attack in a seaside town and was well treated by the local district general hospital. She arrived back in Halifax, but I have no record of anything that happened in the other town. She eventually came to see me four weeks later, as she was running out of pills. The good work the hospital had done was undone while I struggled to get the information I needed to continue to provide care. Her husband (an active type, fiercely protective, and usefully agitated) phoned the hospital and got them to fax the preliminary discharge letter to me. Apparently someone at the hospital had promised him that this was to have been done some time before the patient’s appointment, but for whatever reason it hadn’t been.

    Another patient saw the neurologist for worsening epilepsy. A scan was arranged …

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