A Leyland cancer sufferer missed a potentially life-saving chemotherapy session because Royal Mail did not deliver his appointment letter in time.
Keith Nightingale, from Farington, is the latest in a growing list of furious customers to contact the Leyland Guardian after delays in receiving their post.
However, what started as delays in Christmas mail, has spread to include general post, and Mr Nightingale says it is ruining people’s lives.
The grandad was diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, in August last year, and prescribed a course of chemotherapy.
However, he received a phone call from Royal Preston Hospital on January 6, to ask why he was not at the unit.
“I just panicked when I got that call,” he said. “I didn’t think they’d be able to fit me in again without a long delay.
“The hospital wants to get as many people treated as possible. So missing the appointment because I didn’t know about it puts everything back for me.
“I am hoping to go into remission, but this could put that back too. It’s like a domino effect.
“People are still receiving Christmas cards, which is a nuisance, but it doesn’t make a great lot of difference in the long-run, unlike my missed appointment.”
His wife, Aileen, added: “We’d had no mail to tell us about the appointment, and it’s just not on.
“Royal Mail can’t continue to mess with people’s lives like this. We’re so angry.”
Hospital staff arranged for Keith to attend his missed appointment the following day, and he also had to go in for a scan on the Saturday, and a consultation session on the Monday.
“It really tired him out,” Aileen said. “And the fact that he’d missed his initial appointment because of Royal Mail really didn’t help.
“They’ve finally issued an apology to Leyland’s customers, but it really isn’t good enough when it’s getting more serious than late Christmas cards.
“The cost of postage has gone up, but the service has gone down.”
Mr Nightingale is worried about missing future appointments.
He said: “It’s not just me who the hospital staff have to think about, so the best way to arrange appointments is through the mail. It’s always worked well in the past, but I can’t see it going back to how it was.
“It’s terribly inefficient, standards are really going down, and it’s Leylanders who are suffering the most.”
His wife added: “Keith’s very distressed. This is just something that he shouldn’t have to worry about. He gears himself up and his whole life revolves around appointments at the minute. The slightest thing can knock him back.
“It’s time Royal Mail gave us some answers. We’re all paying for this service, and the bottom line is that they’re not delivering our mail. I don’t care what their excuse is.
“They’re blaming the bad weather which we had in December, but that was weeks ago now. And my husband missing his hospital appointment is the last straw.”
Royal Mail refused to comment on the issue of the missed appointment, but said: “We apologise to customers in Leyland who may have experienced delays to mail deliveries recently.”
Sharon Fitzpatrick, Outpatient Services Manager at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are aware that delays can sometimes happen with the post, especially at this time of year and as such take a number of important steps to try and ensure that our patients are kept up-to-date about their appointments.
“If there is a change to an appointment or an appointment has become available at short notice, we will always try to contact the patient by telephone and to avoid delays, send any short notice appointment letters by first class postage.
“We always aim to send out our appointment letters, giving as much notice as possible to the patient but it is difficult to account for delays with the postal service.”
Do you know what’s going on at Leyland’s Sorting Office? Contact Kay Taylor on 01257 264911, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
See this week’s Leyland Guardian for the full story.