"Experience with Gynaecology"

About: Crosshouse Hospital / Gynaecology

(as the patient),

Similar to another authors experience, I was this week left feeling extremely disheartened and devastated by a telephone conversation with a member of staff at this department.

Having been referred to the infertility clinic in April by my surgeon for investigations due to my previous pelvic surgery, my partner and I had a first appointment with a registrar ( who was lovely and very reassuring) in June. We then had blood and semen analysis and I was given a pelvic ultrasound in July.

Following the results of these tests and an agonizing 5 week wait following a poorly worded letter I finally spoke to the registrar again in August. The registrar informed us that we would be placed on the IVF waiting list and nothing more could be done for us at Crosshouse.

However, we were still both eager for investigations to be carried out as my understanding is that my condition does not, in itself, mean you cannot conceive. The registrar empathised with our situation and offered to speak to a superior.

After much to-ing and fro-ing I finally had a discussion with a doctor. I was called out of the blue at work which took me by surprise and left me feeling unprepared for what turned out to be quite a confrontational exchange.

The doctor insisted that it would be too 'risky' to carry out a the procedure, but could not give me any real reason for this that related to my previous surgery. The doctor also compared me wanting this test to "all these young girls who wanted early cervical screening after Jade Goody was diagnosed with cancer" insisting that there was no medical benefit to me having the test and dismissing the idea that there might be a psychological benefit to me knowing if my tubes are working or not while we are trying to conceive and on the IVF waiting list.

After being forced to practically beg for this test, the doctor finally agreed to carry it out, but then said I would have to wait another 5 months. I was sure the registrar had previously mentioned there would be an 8-10 week wait for investigations and I felt as though I was being dismissed to the bottom of the pile again 8 months after I was first referred to the clinic to punish me for being so demanding.

To be honest I was apalled at the attitude and was so upset I had to rush home from work in tears.

I have taken independent advice from other medical professionals who do not agree that this test would be 'risky' for me and I have now been forced to book into a private clinic for it even although I do not have the financial means to pay for this.

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Response from Craig White, Assistant Director, Nurse Directorate, NHS Ayrshire and Arran

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Dear Baglady

I was so sorry to read of your experience and the distressing impact on what sounds like insensitive (and may I say inappropriate) communication. Please accept my apologies on behalf of NHS Ayrshire and Arran for what sounds like a complete failure to take account of your needs and respond in a caring, compassionate and person-centred way.

Can you please make contact with me (Craig.White@aapct.scot.nhs.uk or 01292 513607)so that I can ask the Clinical Director of Gynaecology to make personal contact with you as a matter of urgency - the priority has to be on putting things right for you.

Yours sincerely,

Craig A White

Assistant Director

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Response from Craig White, Assistant Director, Nurse Directorate, NHS Ayrshire and Arran We are preparing to make a change

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Dear Baglady,

Shortly after we talked about a month ago, I spoke with the Clinical Director of our Gynaecology Department to share details of our conversation and outline my concerns about your experiences. I have now received a report from the service that outlines what they are doing to make sure that your feedback is informing discussion, reflection and learning within the service.

I was pleased to read of the personal contact and meeting you had with the service, reflecting the Board's commitment to deliver a caring and respectful response when we do not get it right. I can see that you have very effectively outlined the need for improvements within the fertility service, improvements that are now activity being discussed with the staff involved.

Thank you again for taking the time to use Patient Opinion to let us know about the need for improvements,

Best wishes

Professor Craig White

Assistant Director, Nurse Directorate

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Update posted by Baglady (the patient)

Dear Craig

Thank you for your response confirming the service is working towards making improvements and reflecting on the issues I raised. I just wanted to note how positive and constructive an experience I felt the meeting with the meeting with the Clinical Director was. My partner and I were able to make suggestions around changes which I believe will be relatively simple and inexpensive to implement.

This experience and the way my comments have been handled have been the complete opposite to my experience of making a formal complaint about a previous issue with another service.

I would encourage any patient who wants to work with staff to engender positive changes for others to use Patient Opinion and bypass the stressful and adversarial complaints process.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to listen and act upon my story.

Response from Craig White, Assistant Director, Nurse Directorate, NHS Ayrshire and Arran We have made a change

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I am pleased to hear this - it's exactly what the Chief Executive and our Board has outlined as the response everyone should expect from a learning organisation. I'm sorry your experience of the complaints process was so negative before. Your experience with Patient Opinion is what we're committed to supporting for all feedback, comments, concerns AND complaints - whether they are made through Patient Opinion or by contact with staff through face to face, telephone or email interactions. Tests of change are already confirming the benefits for this approach with complaints too.

As you know, I've left Ayrshire to work on some of these issues nationally but will ask my colleagues in Ayrshire to make sure that an update is posted in the future - when th changes you have suggested are becoming part of the norm for people using the service in the future.

With best wishes to you and your partner for a healthy and happy 2014,

Craig W

Professor Craig A White

Assistant Director

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Updates, changes and questions related to this story