"Treatment at A&E "

About: Ninewells Hospital / Accident & Emergency

(as the patient),

I have recently been going through surgery for breast cancer and due to delays in treatment in the Grampian area had been fortunate enough to get a referral privately through work to glasgow. Initial surgery to remove lump and nodes went without issue two weeks previously and was treated as day case with trip back to Aberdeen in car driven by husband the same day. Second surgery was required as cancer remained in margin around tumour- again day case with journey home same day. Kept in after op for four hours for observation and as they were happy with wound they let me go to be driven home by husband. Just outside Dundee, I felt something wet against my arm and looked down to see blood staining my top and scarf around the operation area. Rang the glasgow hospital to ask whether I should go to a&e, carry on to try to get to own GP or if I could treat at home. Told to go to a&e at ninewells by charge nurse as blood shouldn't be staining clothes to that degree.

Arrived to be told by receptionist that nurse in glasgow had already called and was speaking to one of the doctors.

Waited around half an hour and called in for initial nurse assessment. Treated abruptly. I was asked to explain what had happened and then told that this was not an issue for a&e. I explained that I didn't know who the best person was to go to for treatment and if she was saying it was my own gp then I was more than happy to do that but going back to the hospital in glasgow wasn't a realistic option, I just wanted someone to help me as I didn't know what to do. She gave me a small pamphlet about a&e services and also asked me to read a handout which stated what a&e could and couldn't deal with. I was upset and angry at this point as I felt I was being accused of wasting NHS resources.

I explained again that I was happy to follow up by a more appropriate route but not having been in this situation before, I hadn't known what this was and also said that I'd spoken to the nurse in glasgow who had said to go to a&e. My husband who was in the room supported me by echoing what the receptionist had said about the nurse speaking to one of the doctors before I arrived.

At that point she said "we'll in that case it's completely different' and advised she hadn't been given this info. I was told to go and wait in reception to be seen.

Two and a half hours later I left reassured that there was no significant issue - but I hadn't known that when I arrived. I was scared, looking for support and understanding and made to feel like a time waster. Maybe I am. But I'm not medically trained, I've never been in this situation before and I wouldn't wish it on anyone else. I think sometimes the people we interact with don't see us as individuals, trying to do the best we can unfamiliar territory.

The nurse and doctor I saw were both lovely - I completely understood why we had a long wait as there were far more urgent cases to be dealt with. I wish I hadn't taken up their time in addition to these but I'm also grateful they helped me when I needed help.

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Response from Caroline Hiscox, Associate Nurse Director, NHS Tayside

Dear Daltocat,

Please accept my apologies for my delayed response. I very much appreciate you sharing your experience with us and particularly for taking the time to highlight the positive aspect of your care as well as the aspects that we could improve upon.

I am disappointed to learn that the initial part of your experience of the Emergency Department left you upset and angry. I recognise this must have been a most upsetting and distressing time for you and it is clear from your description of events that you tried to ensure you were attending the correct part of the service for help.

There can be pressures placed upon our ED team every day and it is important that the department is used appropriately. As a result staff occasionally have to consider redirecting some patients to more appropriate sources of care. This helps us concentrate on those who are most acutely unwell. When staff have conversations about this, they should do so in a professional and courteous manner. I am so sorry that you felt as if you were being accused of wasting NHS resource; this should not have been the case.

You will appreciate that I do not have the specific details required to identify the individuals that you were in contact with however your comments have been shared with the staff to ensure that they reflect on your experience to improve communication within the service and aim to treat all patients with compassion.

If you would like to discuss this further I can be contacted through the Feedback Team at feedback.tayside@nhs.net

I would like to thank you for taking the time to contact us through Patient Opinion and providing the opportunity to learn from your experience.

Kind regards

Caroline McQuillian

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