Medical mail failed to cross Oban in 18 days

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More complaints of late and missing medical mail emerged in the local area this month, with one letter taking up to 18 days to get from Oban hospital to an Oban patient.

The letter, dated March 29, was sent by Oban’s Lorn and Islands Hospital on Glengallan Road to an Oban address less than a mile away. But it was never delivered through the patient’s front door.

The man said he only received the appointment letter, for an echocardiogram at the x-ray department, when he visited the Royal Mail Delivery Office on Albany Street on April 15, trying to track down a missing parcel.

The 63-year-old, who has regular appointments to monitor his Type One diabetes, first contacted us on Wednesday April 20 to say three appointment letters from Oban hospital had failed to reach his home so far this month.

‘There is a total absence of mail delivery,’ he said. ‘It is not for the customer to say “please give me the mail that is due to me”, rather than them sitting on it.’

The day after we spoke, on Thursday April 21, the Royal Mail delivered the remaining two hospital appointment letters to his Oban address.

One first class letter, written at Oban hospital on April 14, and post-marked April 15, was for an appointment in the local podiatry department on Friday April 22.

The Royal Mail’s website says it aims to deliver first-class mail the next working day. This letter, from an Oban hospital to an Oban home, took six working days.

The other letter, written at Oban hospital on April 19, post-marked April 20, and franked second class, arrived well within the Royal Mail’s target time of two to three working days.

In the same consignment delivered on Thursday April 21, the man finally received the parcel containing a hot water tap for the nursing home where he works.

It was dispatched from Yorkshire on April 11 and was due to arrive in Oban two days later on April 13, confirmed by an email from Amazon.

‘I have Amazon Prime, so I was expecting two days,’ he said. During the 11-day wait, staff were forced to boil water in saucepans.

‘I do not have any faith in the Royal Mail delivery these days,’ the patient said. ‘You pay for a service. You expect a service. You have a right to expect it delivered on time.’

In its investigation over the last six months, The Oban Times has reported many instances of missed medical appointments in the local area due to late mail. All these reports, with the Royal Mail’s responses, can be read on our website.

This week a Royal Mail spokesperson said: ‘We are very sorry for the disappointment expressed by some customers about the problems they have reported with our service locally in recent months, which we fully understand.

‘We know that these problems include reports of some customers not receiving letters about hospital appointments, and reports of some customers having to collect their mail from one of our delivery offices, and we are very sorry for any distress and inconvenience caused.

‘These problems have been caused by a combination of resourcing issues and the high number of absences caused recently by Covid-19. We have put in place a number of measures to address these problems, and are confident that customers should now receive a service of the high standard that they are entitled to expect from Royal Mail.

‘We are very sorry that these measures did not improve our service as quickly as we had initially forecast. Having further reviewed the situation, we are now confident that our customers should have no further cause for complaint about our service locally.

‘In particular, there is not currently any accumulation of mail waiting to be delivered. This has been achieved in part by several new colleagues joining Royal Mail locally.

‘We wish to stress again how grateful we are to our hard-working local colleagues, who have throughout done their utmost to provide the best possible service under deeply challenging circumstances.’