[ NHS Waiting list coordinator: how has work life been for them? ]

10th February 2022

We all know how hard it’s been to get doctors, hospitals and all kinds of appointments especially during COVID. But have you heard an insight of how the people behind these waiting lists have felt? Well in this week’s article we will be interviewing a waiting list coordinator. We’re speaking to Natasha, she specialises in dealing with the ear nose and throat department. 

 

SQ: Hey! Welcome to SQ, it’s a pleasure speaking to you today. Can you introduce yourself?


Natasha:  Hi! I’m Natasha. I have a wonderful daughter, a mad spaniel and I’ve worked at the hospital for almost 4 years.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR POSITION? DO YOU GET ENOUGH SUPPORT?

I work as a waiting list coordinator for a local hospital specifically with the ear, nose and throat department. I deal with cases such as cancer and routine surgery. Which is really heartbreaking but I’m glad I can help. 

I get plenty of support, there’s a lot of resources set up to help us with any support we may need including personal issues we may have. Which is great, not many job roles are that understanding about personal issues and mental health within their employees. I’ve never felt alone and always had someone to talk to whether it’s a fellow employee or my employer.

HOW MUCH HAVE THE WAITING LISTS CHANGED OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, ESPECIALLY DURING COVID? WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE AND HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THEM?

Unfortunately, due to Covid, patients are having to wait a lot longer for routine procedures. Before covid, we usually got patients in within 52 weeks but, the waiting time has almost doubled. I wish there was something we could do to change this but at the moment it’s a long process trying to make sure everything is COVID safe so patients aren’t worried about their health anymore than they already are. 

On a daily basis, I’m having to deal with a lot of, understandably, upset patients because we’re either having to cancel their surgery or we can’t give them a date. I deal with this by empathising and explaining the current situation. I try to give them as much information as I can and give them some tips that they can do to help their situation at home, for example who they can reach out to in the meantime or let them know that if they need someone to talk to there are many lines that they can reach out to. 

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO TELL THE GENERAL PUBLIC, HOW THEY CAN HELP OR WHAT THEY NEED TO KNOW? WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THEM IF THEY'RE STRUGGLING TO GET ON A WAITING LIST?

I don’t think there’s much the general public can do to help because it’s even out of our control sometimes. I do understand that coming in for surgery can be upsetting for patients and most of the time, they have to organise a lot of things before coming in, which is why we do get so many calls from patients. This isn’t a bother at all, I’m glad that 9/10 patients feel like they can ask for help/advice on their surgery and so we can make it as easy as we can for them. I would like to give them the advice of making sure you cover all of your symptoms to the consultant so they understand the urgency and make sure you get seen to accordingly. I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they’re wasting our time or a consultants time, all that matters to us is that you get into your surgery and get healthy as soon as possible. I empathise a lot as I’ve had experiences being on waiting lists as have my family. It’s a difficult time when waiting for something that can be life changing but like I’ve said there are plenty of procedures in place to make sure that everything goes smoothly and to help anyone who is concerned.

HOPEFULLY YOU MIGHT KNOW ABOUT WHAT WE DO AS A COMPANY, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT USING AI TO IMPROVE HOSPITAL CARE AND WAITING TIMES?

Perhaps, it would give patients a better understanding of how long they will have to wait for their surgery and give staff a better understanding of how to make the hospital care flow better. I’ve seen a few articles about how AI is slowly being brought into hospital care and it’s something that we will have to wait to see if it works. As personally, I haven’t had any experience of AI and how it can help so I’m a bit unsure about what it will do in the future. But I’m always happy to find new ways to improve the care of our patients and make sure they are as stable as they can be in such a tough situation. 

SQ:Thank you for giving us your time, it was lovely speaking to you. I hope things become easier in the future. 

Natasha: Thanks for giving me this opportunity!

 

That was great being able to speak to someone who was able to give us an insight of such an important job. As time goes on we will be trying to get some more interviews of different job roles in the NHS and even maybe some startup companies! Next week we will be going into more depth about how the waiting lists have changed since COVID and hopefully what will be done to help this. 

Meg Wheller
Media Marketer, Spatial Quotient