"Sensitivity to the needs of sexual trauma victims"

About: Royal Bournemouth General Hospital / Gynaecology

(as the patient),

Last week I underwent a Cystoscopy in the Day Surgery at Royal Bournemouth and Christchuch Hospital. Everyone I met with was very kind. I asked for and obtained additional information about the purpose of the intervention. Excellent.

But it was clear to me that there was complete ignorance of the particular needs of a shockingly large patient category: victims of sexual trauma.

Here are some practical suggestions as to how my own experience at RBCH might have been made much easier. These will also, I hope, be pretty easy to implement. Relaxed, rather than stressed, sexual trauma victims will, I am certain, make much better patients:

- turn the gurney around so that the patient's genitalia are not facing the door

- nurses, orderlies (3 were present with me in a very small operating theater) should if possible be seated off to one side ready to leap into action if necessary but not, please not, directly overlooking the surgical procedure.

- the key should be to afford the patient maximum privacy possible given the circumstances.

I hope these remarks will be of use to hospital staff as well as to the large number of victims of sexual trauma, striving to regain basic human dignity and identity in their lives.

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Responses

Response from Sue Mellor, Patient Experience Lead, Royal Bournemouth & Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust We have made a change

Dear ‘Endreisa’

Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences of day surgery with us.

I was so concerned by your comments that I went to the day surgery unit and reviewed their theatres and procedure room. All the tables in the theatres face away from the door however you were absolutely correct with respect to the procedure room, where cystoscopy’s take place, that the table is angled towards the door.

Please can I assure you that this has already been changed. As you will be aware the door is always locked during a procedure and this will be clearly articulated to all patients from now on.

I have spoken with the team who work in that room and we discussed the need for sensitivity to all patients but particularly victims of sexual trauma.

Please know that all 3 people in that room have specific responsibilities and need to position themselves accordingly in order to assist the surgeon.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your experiences and I hope that the changes we have implemented within a 24 hour period evidence how highly we value your feedback and consistently endeavour to provide high quality care to each and every one of our patients

Privacy & Dignity is integral to our daily lives the Genitourinary Medicine clinic offer a specialised service for those who have been sexually assaulted. You can contact them directly on 01202 704644 if you would like to attend the sexual assault sexual health clinic (SASH) if you feel that this may be of any value to you.

Again I would like to thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us and offer you our best wishes for the future.

Regards

Sue Mellor

Head of Patient Engagement

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Update posted by endreisa (the patient)

Dear Ms Mellor

I enormously appreciate the care you are taking over this issue and trust that any changes you make will be satisfactory to everyone involved. An afterthought:

In my own experience, sexual trauma involved submitting to what seemed like a no exit situation at the time. It follows that any opportunity a patient has to make even limited choices about his/her intervention will help him/her be more actively involved rather passively retraumatized. Budget constraints permitting, these might include:

- a brief word with the surgeon beforehand before giving consent. I had that opportunity, which was hugely important to me.

- sometimes maybe a choice of male vs female nursing staff may be possible?

- maybe a choice of a cuppa before as well as after!

I suspect that it is the experience of even limited choices like these that will make the whole procedure less dehumanising /retraumatizing for the more vulnerable patient.

It is extraordinary to me that in a busy hospital you should be open to such considerations. Thank you. May happy patients make happy staff...