Rude and Unprofessional

My boyfriend was at University when he started to feel very unwell. He had really strong pain in his stomach and was vomiting all the time. Someone called an ambulance and he was taken to this hospital. He was lying on the floor in A&E with plastic bag. He was in pain and was vomiting. He asked 2 doctors for help but there was no reaction.

After one hour a nurse took him and put him on a bed. She asked a lot of questions about alcohol and drugs and left. He doesnt take any drugs and he doesnt drink alcohol. After another hour doctor came and asked the same questions. My boyfirend was still in terrible pain and was vomiting all the time…. After another 40minutes they did blood tests and gave him paracetamol.

After next hour they said that blood tests are fine, they gave him co-codamol and sent him home. He said that he cant walk on his own and that he lives on the other side of London and that his parents will be there in another 40minutes. And what nurse did? She said that he has to leave now and that he can take a cab…

Is that a joke?

We took him from the station. He werent able to walk and talk and was vomiting.

It happened on Wednesday. On thursday he had jus a slice of bread for dinner and on friday morning I took him back to hospital. Now he is in Northwick Park Hospital and its another joke…


Exceptional care at the Royal Free

I have had a health condition now for over 2 years. For all of this time i have been under the care of the Royal Free Hospital and cannot hold them in high enough regard.

I have had too many appointments to remember and over 8 day surgery procedures. In all of this time, i have only been treated with the utmost respect, courtesy and dignity.

All of the staff, in particular the consultant have been not only highly professional and supportive, but most of all have been human – getting to know me, treating me in a friendly and respectful manner, but most importantly, have explained what at times has been a complex condition extensively, have always put up with my million and one questions, and most of all, have respected my knowledge in my condition and how it affects me.

The relationships and friendly personalities of the staff have taken such a burden off me during my treatment, which when i compare to experiences i have had with poor attitudes of other health professionals has made no end of positive difference to my experience, making me feel like a person rather than a condition.

Keep it up!


Excellent A&E department, wonderful staff

I went to the Royal Free Hampstead A&E in the middle of the night last night after speaking to 111 who recommended that I should go. I am so pleased with the care I received and would like to express my gratitude to all the wonderful staff who looked after me so well during my stay. I was kept well informed throughout the whole time and a lot of tests were taken which made me feel I was being really properly treated. In the middle of it all I started hyperventilating and was really freaked out by it as I had no idea what was going on. The nurses were absolutely amazing as was the doctor who came to see me, explained what was happening and stayed with me until it passed. I felt like I was really being listened to and cared for which is really quite brilliant from people who have never met me before.

Thank you everyone at the A&E department, you are all doing such amazing work over there while remaining in great spirits.



VCUG at the Royal Free Hospital Hampstead

My six weeks old baby had a VCUG in July 2005 at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead. It was done by two people, one of them was reading the instructions on a book as he clearly did not have a clue how to do the procedure, he couldn’t find the tubes to insert and was panicking. Once the tubes were found (by the cleaner!) he did not have a clue how to operate it. He did not know how to open or close the line when his boss was asking him to do so, the line had bubbles all over… The lady in charge panicked and called the doctor / consultant who ended up doing the procedure.


Thank you

A massive thank you to the consultant and staff at the Cardiac Suite at the Lister Hospital Stevenage for their care and attention whilst I had my angiogram on Thursday 3rd September.

I couldn’t ask for a better service and I’m ready for the next stage thanks to such wonderful people.


Concern about my father’s care on South 6

I went to South 6 to support my 86 year old mother while visiting my father (85) who was in hospital after a heart attack, a month after a stroke, 2 months after being diagnosed with dementia. She was sitting outside the ward listening to my father screaming in pain while his nappy rash was treated. Not having enough staff to accompany him to the toilet they expect him to sit in his own ordure and being on high steroid doses the skin has broken down. But we had not dared ask questions like “‘Are you looking after his bottom properly?” for fear of the offense that would cause.

Having been previously shouted at for having the temerity to ask for a urine bottle, and for pointing out that the floor was sticky and needed washing, we were learning a culture of accept what you get. So we were grateful that his bottom was being cleaned and tried to write his screams off as over reaction. We were used to ignoring the screams from the man in the adjacent bed anyway.

Mum thought that dad might be coming home on Friday, so I did the 90 mile round trip to help establish what support he would need. As self-payers we have to organise and pay for all home care, so it is useful to have guidance on what he now needs in view of his continuing decline.

On his previous discharge from a different ward in the same hospital they had a family meeting case conference to detail a care package. It sounded wonderful : there would be advice on carers (which turned out to be a faxed list of agency phone numbers) and there would be continuing vital physiotherapy (which because of shortages we are waiting 9 weeks for). We had not been called for such a conference at South 6, so I joined my mother (who was used to going in every morning despite visiting times being 2 – 8 pm) in the hope of confirming what we need to organise for 2 days time. Mum felt that she was useful in helping him to brush his teeth, shaving him and encouraging him to drink which he forgets to do.

When the screaming stopped we were called in to join him despite it not being visiting hours and I was able to ask the nurse to confirm the time scale, the level of care needed, the diagnosis and the medication he would be on. They wanted to reduce his steroid dose on a weekly basis, despite the fact that last time that was tried he landed up progressively disabled until he had a stroke and was half paralysed. I explained to the nurse that the proposition of going through that again was frightening:she offered to find a doctor to explain the decision that had been made in isolation from the family with my father who is suffering from dementia.

A very helpful junior doctor came to see me who explained that they had concluded that the steroid reduction and the stroke were coincidental rather than related events. Having seen his decline into incontinence and unintelligibility prior to the stroke I could not have confidence in that assumption. She kindly described a more gradual way of reducing the steroid dose and was just in the process of trying to confirm for us what diagnosis they had made on my father when she was called away for a phone call by another member of staff.

She left and he remained to berate me for being there outside of visiting hours. He told me that the time for talking to doctors was from 2 – 5 pm only. Having established he was the ward clerk I asked where this was explained. He took me to a rack of leaflets (having found that there was not one displayed by the bed) and could find nothing about how and when families could get any information about their relative’s care. This information is vital when the patient’s short term memory has all but disappeared and discharge into the care of the family is imminent. I explained that I had to leave at 2:00 to get my child out of primary school the other side of London and needed to help my mother who was expecting a disabled man home in 2 days.

The senior nurse came back to defuse the situation and tried to be helpful. I was distressed by the knowledge that my mother would once again be struggling with trying to get the vital pills into my father with no help from district nurses. They seem to have unilaterally decided that they will not help with the administration of medication, and there are still at least 2 weeks before the the physiotherapy will even start.

The only time when my father has been ‘my father’ since last October, has been when he has been on a high steroid dose. Taking that away from him again is tantamount to an intellectual death sentence combined with double incontinence and the failure to recognise what to do with cutlery. Reducing that drug dose without discussion is cavalier to say the least. The hospital doctors’ confidence that the GP could or would monitor the reduction in steroid dose was not shared by us, he even failed to take a pulse when called out while my father was declining to his heart attack, The helpful nurse said that we should complain about the GP but how can you when your father is imminently to be discharged into that man’s care?

We left after a nurse (not a ward orderly) had handed dad a glossy brochure giving him his food choices in print too small for him too read and too much choice for him to hold in his limited short term memory. If only the nurses could spend more time nursing, which with the elderly mentally infirm should include toileting, dad would not have been screaming in pain and we would not be so distressed that we feel that we have to go in outside visiting times.


Being a carer for my husband, on dialysis

I live in North London and am a carer for my husband, who was taken ill in April 2010. He was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and suffered Renal failure in March 2011; he now dialyses 3 times a week.

The specialist Myeloma nurse was superb, giving support to myself and my husband telephoning me at home; this was not at a local hospital. My husband transferred to the local hospital in May 2011 to continue his dialysis.

The 12 journeys a day are exhausting and there is no help with transport, this is one of the hardest physical aspects and also very frightening if I am not well as it is imperative that my husband has his dialysis.

The emotional aspect is devastating; being isolated, feeling very alone and unsupported; despite various agencies out there, they don’t seem to address one’s needs.


Nipple Reconstruction at the Royal Free

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2008. After two surgeries at my local hospital to clear the cancer I had a third, a mastectomy. The word still horrifies me and I can honestly say that although the surgeon and his team undoubtedly followed all the correct guidelines and did their best clinically for me I was left feeling less than a woman. I had an immediate LD reconstruction and despite trying to be very grateful and happy that I had “something” there, I hated it, not least because the reconstruction leapt and twitched and felt hard to the touch.

As time went on I hated it more and I could not think of it as anything other than an implant wrapped in a bit of my back muscle. I dreaded seeing it when I washed or undressed, I felt sick when I glimpsed the ugly, nipple -less lump. It was very difficult to say this as the surgeon kept telling me what a great result I’d had and it took a long time, over a year before I spoke up to say how unhappy I was. I still feel I let him down because I know he had tried to do his best for me.

I was referred to the Royal Free at the beginning of this year for revision, I had the LD flap freed up, the leaping stopped and I was able to sleep more comfortably for the first time since the mastectomy. However, I was still unable to think of the reconstruction as a breast until very recently when I had nipple reconstruction. Although I am still very newly post op I am delighted and feel more normal again. I can’t wait to be finished!

I am deeply moved by the thoughtfulness of the plastic surgeons Ibbi and Yasmeen: they made me feel that they were genuinely concerned about the result and that my satisfaction was important. I am indebted to them and the nursing team, especially Thelma.

Getting There

Colonoscopy at the Royal Free

I attended for a fourth colonoscopy at the Royal Free Hospital London NW3 on late January 2007. I had no problems with my previous colonoscopy proceedures.

A Sister took good care of me when I attended. I undressed and put on my gown.

I met the doctor who was attended me. He checked my consent form and indicated the chance of a perforation of the intestine during the proceedure, But nothing else. He injected a canula into a prominent vein in my right hand and bent the needle. He informed the attending nurses that the medication would still enter the vein.

I awoke during the proceedure with acute pain in my anus. I have quite a high pain threshhold. I flexed my butocks for quite some time and eventually some Pethidine must have been administered to me.

In the recovery ward with two other patients we asked to see the doctor but were informed he was at lunch. I met one of the nurses who was attending at the reception and was informed that no polyps were found. This was wrong as when I attended the hospital a week later I was told by the doctor some ” tissue ” had been removed and the polyps were benign. I asked him to inform my GP and the managers of the hospital of my problems during the procedure. This was not done.

I must add at this time I have never complained of any treatment in the NHS ever before.

My experience at Royal Free NHS Trust Hampstead London

Overall so far I would say that I have received excellent and efficient medical care but I feel that there are some problems with administrative staff and pharmacy staff.

I was referred on an emergency basis to the hepatology department by my GP after becoming jaundiced. I had chosen the Royal Free because the internet contained details of a specialist jaundice clinic at the hospital where all tests could be done on an out-patient basis on the same day. In fact, this facility does not exist, which caused a lot of confusion for my GP and me. After discussion with the Royal Free about this, they tell me they have now removed this page from their web site.

My initial appointments in the hepatology outpatients’ clinic were with a registrar and later with a consultant who were both very good and very thorough. I was offered the opportunity by the registrar to become an in-patient for five days for tests to be carried out but refused this as I have a history of devastating clinical negligence and hideous experiences at two other London NHS hospitals for wholly unrelated issues and am now naturally reluctant to become an in-patient in any hospital unless it is unavoidable. The tests therefore took longer on an out-patient basis than they would have done had I agreed to become an in-patient, and this was entirely my decision.

I had two sets of blood tests, ultrasound, CT and MRI tests. I was mildly concerned that on the second blood sampling, I did not see the person taking the blood tests change his gloves before dealing with me. He may have changed them after the last patient left but I do not know and as a matter of practice, it is better to carry out such necessary hygiene in front of the patient.

I had been sent to the relevant admin person to make an urgent appointment for a CT scan but was only offered an appointment for three weeks’ later. The admin person seemed uninterested, despite the form having been marked “urgent”, so I had to sort this out myself with the registrar, who had been falsely told in the meantime that the problem was that I was insisting on being given the scan that day.

I am dangerously allergic to the contrast used for the MRI scan so have to take a strong regime of prophylactic steroids in the preceding forty-eight hours. These drugs have to be taken at strict intervals counted back from the time of the proposed injection of contrast material and the scan, and I have to be checked afterwards to ensure that I do not go into anaphylactic shock. When I got to the hospital, I noticed that the board said that the MRI scans were running two hours late. I therefore explained to the desk staff that for medical reasons I could not be delayed that long and needed to be brought forward. After waiting an hour, I approached them again, to be told that there were seven patients in front of me and I’d just have to wait my turn. I asked to speak to a doctor as they did not seem to understand that this was a medical issue – I was repeatedly very clear to the desk clerks that I was not complaining about being kept waiting, but that there was a significant medical issue arising from the delay and repeatedly explained clearly what this was.

Initially this request to speak to a doctor was refused and I had to become very assertive and insist on talking to the departmental manager. This too was refused and she would only speak to a desk clerk about what I had said instead of directly to me. I was feeling very unwell and really could have done without all this to-ing and fro-ing and discussion with unhelpful administrative staff. I have no idea why the departmental manager, I think unreasonably, refused to talk directly to me.

After more insistence from me and another half an hour passing, I was seen by the MRI scan consultant. She said that she had only been told that I was complaining about being kept waiting, and after a brief discussion of the medical issues, immediately brought me forward in the queue.

The hepatology consultant I saw several days after the MRI scan had not been told about the scan or given the results. He went to the MRI department to have a discussion with the MRI consultant. The news was not good – I was told at my own prompting that from the size and position of a tumour, I most probably had a cancerous tumour. I had a short discussion with him about this and he arranged for a stent to be fitted to relieve the by now increasingly unpleasant symptoms of a blocked bile duct, and I was told that during this procedure the medics would also take samples for testing and be able to confirm if it were cancer. He also gave me a prescription for three lots of medication that I should take in the meantime.

The person I spoke to in the hospital pharmacy insisted that I could not sit on any of the chairs in the room whilst waiting over half an hour for the prescription to be processed as these were “for travel clinic customers only” – the commercial travel clinic sharing the same facilities – and told me in a bossy manner that I’d “have to go and wait in the café”. The café seats are very uncomfortable, I did not want any refreshments and so I returned to the pharmacy where he became very unpleasant, insisting that I could not sit there and insisting that there was nothing uncomfortable with the café seats. You can imagine that after just finding out that I had suspected cancer, I did not want to deal with such rudeness. I pointed out to him that NHS Trust facilities are paid for out of taxpayers’ money for the benefit of patients not for the commercial interests of people selling travel items, and asked to speak to the pharmacy manager – who immediately said that of course I could sit in one of the three empty seats nearby.

There was a further admin bog-up in that when the appointment was made for the day surgery to fit the stent, I had said that I did not want to stay overnight in the hospital and was told that the doctors would not go ahead with the procedure unless I stayed overnight. When I discussed this with the medical team at the stent fitting, they told me that they had been told that I would not have the stent procedure unless they let me stay in the hospital overnight afterwards. I was quite capable of going home after the procedure and did so.

After the stent was fitted, the samples taken during the procedure confirmed the cancer diagnosis and I was referred on to the oncology consultant for an urgent appointment. The hepatology registrar and hepatology consultant and the hepatology consultant’s secretary had been excellent at communication, regularly phoning me at home to update me with details of my diagnosis, making urgent follow up appointments etc. Once I was passed to oncology, the system collapsed again.

I was told that someone would contact me to make an urgent appointment with the oncology consultant – after hearing nothing for a week, I contacted the hepatology consultant’s secretary and he gave me the number of a member of staff in the oncology department, but told me to get back in touch if I hadn’t been able to sort it out.

By contrast to the hepatology consultant’s secretary’s helpful attitude, I felt that the staff member I spoke to in the oncology department couldn’t care less. This person informed me that they had no trace of me and transferred my call immediately to “referrals”, who didn’t answer the phone. Rather than take up the hepatology consultant’s secretary’s time again, I contacted PALS by email and had an initial response the next day and a day later the PALS representative telephoned me to say someone would call me to make an appointment and the same day someone did, for the following Monday. I’ll do feedback on the oncology services in a few weeks.

So far then, the Royal Free has scored very highly on clinical treatment – I have found the medical staff in the hepatology clinic (and the nurses and admin staff there) efficient, helpful and approachable. Similarly, the staff carrying out the ultrasound, CT scan and MRI scan were pleasant and informative. The medical team who fitted the stent were helpful, pleasant and efficient. Some of the administrative staff, for example the hepatology consultant’s secretary, and the PALS representative, do an excellent job and have a sympathetic and helpful approach.

It is a pity then that some administrative employees of the Royal Free let it down, but it has nonetheless so far been a positive NHS patient experience.