Cancer patients concern over delays at hospital pharmacy

Hinchingbrooke Hospital

Hinchingbrooke Hospital - Credit: Archant

A CANCER patient says he was forced to wait on a seat for more than three hours for medication after being discharged from Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

Elias Elgar, who is 70 and suffers from numerous health problems, was discharged at 2.50pm last Tuesday (April 16) after an overnight stay.

But he was still there at 6.15pm waiting for drugs from the hospital pharmacy. He says he was so frustrated at the delay that his partner left work early in London, picked him up in a taxi and took him home to Bluntisham Road, Colne.

“I was told as I had my own transport, I was not an emergency and I had to wait,” said Mr Elgar. “If you have your own transport, you go to the back of the queue. Anyone with hospital transport is seen to first.”

Mr Elgar, who has cancer of the liver, said he had a phone call from hospital staff at 7.15pm – four-and-a-half hours after being discharged – to say his medication was available for collection.


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With no way of making the 25-minute trip, other than by taxi, he had to leave it to the following day, when he returned with his daughter and made an official complaint.

“When you’re elderly, they push you in a corner and get rid of you,” he said. “This is happening to too many people. There were five people in the waiting room waiting for medication coming up from the pharmacy and they’d been there in excess of two hours.”

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A spokesman for Hinchingbrooke Hospital confirmed a complaint had been made about the waiting time for drugs to be dispensed – and that the target time is within one hour.

She added: “We are currently investigating this via our complaints department so we are unable to comment on specific details regarding the case but can confirm that we take all concerns very seriously and that this will be handled in line the NHS formal complaints process.

“Our pharmacy department aims to dispense medications needing to be taken home within one hour.

“Every request received in the department is time audited and this is reviewed on a monthly basis.

“We prioritise prescriptions from our Short Stay Unit, Acute Assessment Unit and Treatment Centre.

“We also prioritise those that have a fixed transport time or are identified as urgent for other reasons by the ward staff when they are handed in.”

She added that the discharge process was monitored closely and if any weaknesses were identified all departments involved would work to improve the service.

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