[Out-of-office replies] and “disconnect”

This blog post was written after reading the report on the review of the quality of care at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. I was both shocked and saddened to read this report:


In reading this report I was struck by how often staff mentioned the word “disconnect”:

Entry 9.24 of the report seems to capture the disconnect, with words used like “disengagement” and “detached”. It also raises the experience of frontline staff where concerns were “not being satisfactorily addressed” or “being met with silence”:


This report left me reflecting on my recent experience as an NHS doctor working in Scotland. I have two examples of such “disconnect”.

The first example consists of replies from a very senior NHS manager. This communication related to my considerations about care for the elderly whilst in hospital:

Sent: 16 January 2014
[my secretary] has helpfully jogged my memory and I must apologise. I dropped the ball having received your correspondence whilst out of the country in December ….and never caught up fully!

Date: 2 July 2014
I am out of the country for the next week and there will be a delay in responding to your email. If your message is urgent please contact my secretary

Date: 2 October 2014
I am at a conference for the next few days. If your message is urgent please contact my secretary

Date: 9 October 2014
I will be out of the office  [dates redacted] If your message is urgent please contact my secretary

My second example concerns communication about service pressures with a service manager:29 May 2014 Cassidy

James cassidy 3 June 2014 James Cassidy 4 June 2014 James cassidy 5 June 2014 James Cassidy 6 June 2014

My experience is that this “disconnect” is not new. Here is a very short film that I made over a year ago:

Disconnect from omphalos on Vimeo.

2 Replies to “[Out-of-office replies] and “disconnect””

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s