They returned from Edinburgh, husband just having completed the first stages of prostate cancer treatments. He was tired and she was relieved they were back in their own home. He opened the post and handed his wife a letter. It contained instructions to report to a hospital - not the one where he had just been treated - for an operation on a cancerous tumour on his bladder. The couple knew nothing about this. In the bathroom and in private, she cried.
Enquiries the next morning with the GP drew a blank. The hospital patient booking service discovered that this man's hospital identification number was almost the same, but the appointment belonged to another patient. As she said, surely someone could have checked a name, a date of birth....but no, I.D. number with the data input error winged its way to a household already recovering from a health trauma.
Patient services were so grateful for the call and the opportunity to re-send the appointment. "Most people wouldn't phone, they would just turn up", they said. It begs the question, how often do they cock up and send out wrong calls? It's awful and it is frightening.