Patients have struggled to call and book outpatient appointments at The Princess Alexandra Hospital for two weeks.

The hospital trust has said it “urgently investigated” IT issues that have also impacted bookings and implemented a resolution.

However, patient Margaret Emmens has raised concerns as the outpatient booking line was not working for around two weeks.

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The 72-year-old said: “For what must be a fortnight, when you try to ring up to book an appointment, they have a message saying ‘due to unfortunate circumstances…’ I always get that message.

"It must be very scary to older people who are in need of an appointment."

The Epping retiree said she was told there was an issue with the answerphone and was encouraged to try again or at less busy times, despite many attempts to call since August 23.

She added: “They said if you keep ringing you can get through, but I’ve tried, and you can’t.

Epping Forest Guardian: NHS booking form. Picture: PANHS booking form. Picture: PA (Image: PA)

“The number is still giving out the ‘unforeseen circumstances’ messages so is useless.

“Surely a more constructive message can be added, or a different number given.

“I really think this is totally unacceptable.”

The line did work on September 6 but Mrs Emmens said it was out of service again in the early afternoon, with an updated message saying: "We are sorry, please try again later."

The Guardian tried the outpatients’ appointment booking line on Monday (September 6) which provided a message saying: “Due to unforeseen circumstances the PAH outpatient appointment department is now closed, please try again later.”

The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust chief information officer Phil Holland said: “Over the last week, we have experienced issues across our hospitals with colleagues logging on to computers and using IT systems.

Epping Forest Guardian: Princess Alexandra Hospital. Picture: Google Street ViewPrincess Alexandra Hospital. Picture: Google Street View (Image: Google Street View)"This has also impacted intermittently on contacting our teams, including for booking outpatient appointments.

“We urgently investigated the issues, working with our third party suppliers, and a resolution has now been implemented for the majority of computers and systems.

“We appreciate the impact of this for patients who have experienced delays in contacting our teams during this time and we apologise for the difficulty caused.

“We encourage patients to recontact the outpatients’ appointment booking line Monday to Friday, from 8am and 8pm, to arrange their appointment.”