"Day surgery: You were perfect in every way"

About: Torbay Hospital / General surgery

(as the patient),

I arrived 07: 10 at the main reception with 20 minutes spare to find where I was supposed to be in the labyrinth of buildings and corridors the hospital has grown into over the years. I am a grown man who is not too scared to admit that I was, urm…quite scared, and the corridor walls seemed all the starker to me as a patient not a visitor. Instinct led me to the only lift I knew from previously visiting friends, at the corridor to the left of main reception, reach 7th floor, doors open, wrong 7th floor, not my place, should have read the sign downstairs, back to reception.

A woman in green scrubs was hurriedly passing (I guessed about to start a break by the sandwich box in hand) but stopped quickly with a warm expression as I caught her eye and asked directions. “Ah you need the other 7th floor” she smiled, then explained the way with a much appreciated sunny disposition on what was a rather darker morning for me.

Following the instructions I reached three members of cleaning staff who were engaged in a pre-shift chat. With a simple “Excuse me” one of the smiling faces warmly asked “Day surgery admissions? ” clearly guessing what I was looking for, then pointed me the way.

Arriving at the correct 7th floor another smiling face met me on reception and directed me to a room where the various pre-op stuff happened, anesthetist questions, then lots of paperwork with another equally friendly nurse, blood pressure, wrist tag, and the issuing of the hospital gown transforming me into a patient, complete with less than fashionable anti deep vein thrombosis tight socks/stockings which I am pleased to announce I did not take a picture of; )

Next, to the meeting with the consultant surgeon. A very straight talking and serious moment because this was the man who was actually going to be opening me up. Again I realised how scared I was behind my facade, but listened carefully to his clear description of what he intended to do and what the risks or expectations could be. He had a bluntly worded delivery which I engaged well with because it was clearly honest, and also because his eyes showed a gentle compassion which softened the speech. I left more confidently than before, and headed for the anesthetic team.

Monitors attached, needle inserted in hand for drugs, blood pressure taken, oxygen mask on, the friendly team got busy with their work. One of the nurses seemed to be on official ‘patient interaction duty’ and focused my attention away from the stuff going on with some friendly chit chat and a gentle comforting stroke of my shoulder which was well received. The bed was reclined and the anesthetist asked me to tell her when I started to feel a little drunk……..

“Would you like another blanket? ”

“Oh yes please, I didn’t know if I was at home and forgot to set the heating or was imagining things”

“Close your eyes and don’t worry, you’re not imagining things”

Everything was a bit blurry, fuzzy, shadowy, dark, confusing, then a kindly voice told me to relax and close my eyes as they tucked me in. Comforted under 2 more blankeys (as my drug induced childlike mind saw it) the shivering stopped, and everything went peacefully dark again.

On waking up, more friendly faces greeted me and explained that I was off to recovery as they wheeled my bed to another room. I felt safe and shut my eyes again. My sleep was only broken by a conversation between a professional and a distressed patient behind the curtain next to me. It made me smile because the voice sounded so kind, warm and compassionate it even comforted me, just knowing someone sounding so nice was in the same room.

After checks, instructions, a bag of painkillers and dressings, and a phone call to my designated lift/responsible adult, I was free to go. Fixed again, although sore, but fixed, and very very grateful.

Thank you to all the staff at Torbay hospital who were a part of making that happen. Thank you for giving everything with a smile and genuine compassion, in an organisation which is a political football you cannot control yourself. Thank you to the staff who just offered directions with a smile, thank you to the registrar assisting the consultant who was overly apologetic because we had to move rooms due to a PC not logging onto the network (I didn’t mind at all! ), thank you to the anesthetists team who knocked me out and controlled post-op pain with a pre-wake up local jab. Thank you to the nurse who saw my fear through the confident male facade and gently stroked my shoulder, I needed that. Thank you to the care and skills of the surgeon and all the clinical team involved in fixing me. Thank you to the caring but blurry memory people in recovery, the staff member who tucked me in with the blankets and the kindly voice comforting the patient next door to me behind the curtain…and thank you to the cheery porter who brought me my bag of clothes with a beaming smile saying “How’re you feeling fella? I bet you can’t wait to get these on”

We must have our debates on the funding, organisation, and administration of the NHS of course, but it is an organisation run by people. And all the people I met in Torbay treated me in the way I would want everyone to be treated…. Thank you, you were perfect in every way! ! : )

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Response from Torbay Hospital

We are delighted to read your encouraging comments. We are really pleased that the care and treatment you received reached the high standards we constantly strive to achieve.

Staff appreciate hearing about patients’ positive experiences and your feedback will be shared with those concerned.

Again many thanks for taking the time to share this feedback with us. South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

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