"Six month old baby turned away by health professionals "

About: Queen Margaret Hospital / Ear, Nose & Throat

(as a parent/guardian),

I had an issue with the care of my 6 month old son.

He saw ENT specialist at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, who diagnosed Glue Ear and wrote a prescription recommendation for me to hand in to GP. When I went to hand it in, I noticed his right ear was bleeding. He'd been inconsolable for about an hour, so I was expecting discharge from the ear (this has been going on for a month, hence the ENT referral) but it's the first time I've ever noticed blood.

With the puss/discharge from his ear, I couldn't see if the blood was coming from inside the ear or a scratch at the outside but since I was on the way to surgery anyway I figured I'd get him seen there.

I explained all this at reception who told me the triage nurse was gone and duty doctor had a patient but she'd ask what they'd advise. Receptionist came out to waiting area soon afterwards to tell me that the GP said the antibiotics prescribed from hospital would clear it up. I stressed that he'd been seen at hospital two days previously, the prescription hadn't yet been issued and that he hadn't been bleeding at that point but was right at that moment and it was the bleeding that concerned me. She told me she could try to get a rush on the prescription to get it ready for that afternoon and when I again said about the blood coming from his ears, she offered to see if a health visitor was available. I said no and took my son straight to minor injuries at Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline.

I told the receptionist there I had a six month old baby with blood coming out of his ear. Her reaction was to suck air in through her teeth and say "oh, six month old baby? We can't see children under a year". I asked what I was supposed to do and another member of staff came over, who explained we'd have to see GP or go to A&E in Kirkcaldy. At this point I broke down in tears, telling them I'd just come from the GP who hadn't even looked at him and I just wanted someone to check that my baby was all right. The response was that they are a nurse-led unit, don't have any doctors here, and haven't had any for two years. So I said through tears I'd have to drive to Kirkcaldy as it seemed there was no one at all in Dunfermline willing to look at my child. I think he took pity on me then because he offered to phone the GP for me and after a short wait (my son was still screaming through all of this and I also had my two year old son with me) told me I was to head straight to GP with him and they were expecting us.

So, an hour after originally presenting at GP surgery and now considerably distressed I finally managed to get someone to look in my son's ear. The Dr cleaned up the blood and gunge from his ear and was able to show me it was a scratch just outside the ear canal and nothing to worry about. The Dr also typed out the prescription recommended by ENT but when she was saying what it was she said "1.5 ml three times a day for two weeks then 0.75 ml three times a week for two months" I challenged that as the specialist had told me the reduced dose was also to be given three times a day. The doctor made a joke of it, joking about checking if I was paying attention, then showed me the ENT letter confirming dose of three times daily. However, when I got to the pharmacy I checked the prescription and the doctor had issued it for three times a week, so there was more explaining and delay while pharmacist had to phone the doctor to check and have new (corrected) script issued.

While I am so relieved it was just a scratch to the outside of his already infected ear and nothing more serious, the whole experience was very distressing. The fact I presented first in the surgery then at minor injuries clinic at hospital saying my baby had blood coming from his ear and it was clearly visible on his face yet not one health professional even looked at him for an hour has really shaken me.

I feel a bit silly now knowing it was just a wee scratch but I was pretty concerned at the time and am very unhappy with how we were dealt with (or rather, not dealt with). What if it had been something more serious?

This is the same GP that has previously advised me to syringe feed water to my exclusively breastfed baby while telling me I would "need" to give him formula - absolutely wrong on both counts! She also asked "have you had a baby" when I went to speak to her about post natal depression (clue might be in the phrase "post natal"! ); dismissed me and made me feel like I was overreacting when I took my 2 yr old in with a viral chest infection, leading me to be hesitant in seeking medical help when my 8 weeks old showed the same symptoms. Who then ended up in hospital for three days, needing help to breath with Bronchiolitis. When I told the doctor I struggled to get my 2 year old to take his Amoxicillin for tonsillitis at a year old, it was suggested that I "put it in his coke" to get him to drink it (my one year old did not drink coke!).

It's fair to say my recent experiences have not left me with very positive feelings.

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Response from Louise Ewing, Patient Relations Manager, NHS Fife

picture of Louise Ewing

Dear Mummy of two boys

Thank you for taking the time to post on Patient Opinion when you must be very busy with the boys. It sounds like it was a frightening experience for you. I would be keen to speak to you directly about this to enable me to follow up on the points you raise and I wondered if you would consider giving me a call to discuss this further. In the meantime I can certainly pass your post on to the areas that for now I am able to identify and seek a further response.

I have included my contact telephone number should you opt to discuss this further.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to post.


Louise Ewing,

Patient Relations Manager

NHS Fife

01592 648153

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