"some members of staff need to show empathy"

About: East Surrey Hospital / Older people's healthcare East Surrey Hospital / Oncology

(as a relative),

Dad was discharged as an in patient from ESH a week ago. We knew dad had cancer but we also knew dad well enough to know that he’d prefer not to know, and at 88 he’s too old and frail to have treatment anyway.

Knowing that he had an appointment today at the outpatient clinic, I phoned the clinic yesterday and spoke to an extremely pleasant and empathetic nurse and asked if there was any way that the truth be explained to mum but not to let on to dad the full extent of the cancer.

She understood my concerns and said the consultant was good at explaining gently.

I quote from my mum’s email about the consultant after the appointment:

I think the opposite, he seemed determined to make your father know that his situation was very serious,

I kept trying to catch his eye, everytime he told your father what he had-----lumps in his lungs, his back crumbling—he would have to have radio therapy on his back, and could possibly have pains in his abdomen, and when that happened he had to be bought in at once as he could use the use of his legs its very serious----then he asked your father if he wanted to know how serious it was-------he said he did’nt----------I think the doctor looked disappointed.

He hasn’t spoken since we’ve been back—wont eat—although he did have an ice cream.

That doctor had no right at all to say all that to him----I’ve lived with him for seventy years, —he does wallow in sickness and every time he gets a different twinge, he’ll think he’s dying

I knew that once the pain went—which it had, his spirits would lift, now we are going to have bad moods-----Bloody Doctor! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

I do know that doctors are now required to tell patients the full diagnosis if the patient wants to know, but my dad didn’t.

Thanks to the consultant acting like god, my father will now spend what little time he has left in fear.

This is the second complaint I’ve made re my father’s treatment at ESH, and I don’t want to come across as a serial whinger but I do think some members of staff need to show empathy.

Did the consultant really think that at dad's age he'd want to be put through radiotherapy with probable side effects?

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Response from Garry East, Assistant Director for Clinical Support Services, Clinical Support Services, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Dear Wiggins,

I'm very sorry to hear of the experience that both you and your father recieved in clinic. I would like to investigate for you so could you please contact me directly with your fathers details - Garry.East@sash.nhs.uk

Kind regards

Garry East

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