"Early asthma attack symptoms ignored led to severe..."

About: Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Wonford)

Having struggled to breathe with chest ache, a thick cold, blood sugars rising and peak flow dropping...I attended the Walk In Centre early one morning (7am) on Saturday 22nd November and saw 2 Drs at the same time, who had recently strolled in with their coffee cups having a chuckle in reception at 9am. I was feeling very poorly and had been sitting waiting a long time due to a reception error with my paperwork (she was understaffed) A nurse noticed I was still there and came to my aid. I was feeling very poorly and teary and following the kind nurse sorting the error, I was finally was called in to see the 2 doctors. The lady Doctor listened to my chest and said she couldn't hear wheezing. I explained it was only wheezing at night and I have had 5 chest infections in the last 12 months and recently a few weeks before. They knew I was asthmatic and I said I'd had a my first mild attack the previous May and explained my peak flow was dropping quickly. I also explained my blood sugars had risen and that I felt like another infection was rapidly settling in. I was very tired and teary discussing this and they didn't check my sugar levels nor peak flow and told me to go home and rest (told then I had been for several days) and to take Ibuprofen (despite it being known as bad for asthmatics) I also told them I was a registered carer and didn't want to get too poorly to be able to help at home. I went home feeling bewildered and upset as had been made to feel I was wasting their time. Within 24 hours my asthma has become very serious and I returned to the Doctors On call (in same department) after phoning first as scared I would be wasting precious energy going to the Walk In. Luckily, the Doctor there was more focused (not sitting back with arms and legs folded like the man yesterday) , had better listening skills and put me straight onto a nebuliser and onto steroids. Since then I have needed to be signed off work for 10 weeks and referred to a Respiratory Consultant at the same hospital who was excellent. (And surprised at the ineffective actions, or lack of on my first attendance 2 months before. This attack could clearly have been avoided if they had done simple and free tests - A peak flow reading takes less than 1 minute. A blood sugar test the same. I have been too poorly to follow this up with the PALS who in my experience are fairly useless in such situations as upon my return on Sunday 23rd Nov I was told the paper records from my visit the day before weren't there and they'd had a computer problem. Not got the energy to waste my time so having written a very truthful and positive review for my amazing team of GP's and their practice team, I have decided to write this too. A fair balance I feel. Feel free to check that review about the Southernhay House Surgery. A place where all the staff listen.

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Response from Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Wonford)

We are sorry to hear of your experience in the Walk in Centre. Although the Walk in Centre is based at the Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust this is not a service that we run, and it comes under the remit of Northern Devon Healthcare. Should you wish to discuss your concerns further, you can contact their Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), via the telephone number or e-mail address below. • By telephone 01271 314090 • By e-mail: ndht.PALS@nhs.net

Response from Peter Brain, Volunteer, Healthwatch Devon

Dear Liz Edwards

The comments and responses on the web-site of Patient Opinion are shared with us at Healthwatch.

Thanks you for taking the trouble to write about your experiences. Clearly you have been disappointed by the treatment received and by some of the people involved.

We are building a picture of the provision of services in Devon and these comments will help the NHS and other providers develop and improve their services.

If you wish to discuss any health or social care issues with us in confidence, including seeking advice or information about services, please call 0800 520 0640, or email info@healthwatchdevon.co.uk or go on-line to www.healthwatchdevon.co.uk.

Yours sincerely

Peter Brain


Healthwatch Devon is the consumer champion for Health and Social Care in Devon.

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