"Urgent care Penzance style"

About: West Cornwall Hospital (Penzance)

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One afternoon I noticed some unusual visual disturbance in my right eye. I checked the symptoms on the internet, they were a classic description of retinal tear or detachment problems The next morning I rang the NHS helpline who advised me I should immediately attend the urgent care clinic at West Cornwall Hospital. I arrived at the hospital mid morning. There was a cheery reception desk festooned with Christmas bunting and flowers. I was directed to the urgent care waiting area, a small area off a long dingy corridor. No cheery bunting, instead hard seats in a dreary, slightly grubby windowless space, a few tired looking NHS self-promotion leaflets all topped off by a fairly grim-looking receptionist. After a 40 minute wait a Triage nurse almost fell out of the very stiffly locked security door entrance to the ward. She took my details. When I mentioned the word 'floaters' she commented that her elderly mom had those “all the time' and that they were “nothing to be worried about'. There then followed another half hour wait relieved by my interest in the discussions being conducted outside the thin curtain of my cubicle. These consisted of wide-ranging talks between an assortment of nurses, doctors and healthcare assistants, and mostly centred on staff parties. Eventually a doctor came into the cubicle and said that eyes weren't really his 'thing'. He did say that he would do an examination though. By this time I had been so 'softened up” by the waiting process that I was keen for any help. He took out what looked like a small flashlight and asked me to stand and focus on a spot on the wall. It turned out I was too tall for him to get a good look in my eye, so he asked me to bend my knees a bit. This was rapidly descending into farce.. he couldn't make out anything going on in my eye, which was hardly surprisingly, for he had not given me eye drops to dilate the pupil, was not using the correct instrument to examine the back of the eye, was not following appropriate retinal assessment protocols, clearly had little or no experience of eye examinations and was in short acting unprofessionally After his amateurish effort, the doctor said that really the eye unit at Truro hospital were the experts and that he would call them sometime in the afternoon and that they would be in contact with me to arrange an appointment in the next day or so. This seemed a very casual approach to my problem I asked if it would be a good idea for me to drive up to the Truro hospital immediately, even though I was uncomfortable with the idea of driving. He replied that there would be no problem me driving myself up as he had had patients in the past who had driven up there “with their eyes half hanging out after severe trauma”, I attended the eye clinic at Treliske in Truro that same evening where three sight-threatening retinal tears were found in my right eye and which were immediately treated with laser surgery.

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Response from West Cornwall Hospital (Penzance)

Thank you for taking the time to give us your comments on your recent attendance at our Urgent Care Centre. We are sorry that your experience was not a positive one and will make sure your feedback is passed onto the team. If you would like us to respond to you in detail, please contact the Sister at the Urgent Care Centre who will be happy to look into the concerns you have raised.

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