"Strongly worded letter = diagnosis of pernicious anaemia"

About: Royal Surrey County Hospital / General medicine Surrey PCT

(as the patient),

At the beginning of the year I started getting pins and needles in my feet and legs. This then spread to my arms and eventually my face.

After two months of worrying I finally asked for a telephone appointment with my doctor. He rang, organised a blood test, I went to the Royal Surrey, went straight in, had it, went home. After two weeks I rang for the results, only two were in - we were waiting for about another 8.

The symptoms fluctuated but never went away and I was pretty scared - especially when my hands started to get weak. After about 6 weeks of no further test results, I had an emergency five minute appointment, at which I cried and got sent to a neurologist.

Well, I got a list of contact details, rang them all to see which hospital had the soonest appointment - back to the Royal Surrey two weeks later. The neurologist was unimpressed and said it was the way I sat, said he needed the blood test results and sent me off. I carried on ringing for the blood test results every Friday, the symptoms carried on, always there, but sometimes worse.

Eventually the GP practice were fed up of me calling for the results. After a further 6 weeks or so, I asked for another call from the doctor. He rang, I was in a meeting, he did not ring back.

After one more go for the results, I sat down at my computer: two weeks ago tomorrow, and tried to find an email contact for my surgery. There was no such thing, but there was a patient's charter saying how everyone would be treated the same, but nothing about the actual commitment to provide good 'doctoring'. There was only a physical address, so I wrote a strongly worded letter.

I said that I could not take on the might of the NHS to try to diagnose this. I know I watch too much House, but I do expect there to be a point in time where a doctor who cannot find a diagnosis would consult colleagues for help, and would certainly chase up blood test results. Instead I felt like I was managing my own case and had to effectively ‘manage’ the medical staff involved in just finding out what was wrong with me.

I received a lovely worded letter back, followed by lots of lovely telephone calls to organise a double appointment with the first doctor who ordered my bloods - at a time convenient to me.

I went to see him this afternoon. Sat there whilst he rang for my bloods. He got the results, and diagnosed pernicious anaemia and I am now on a course of Vit B12 shots. If only he had done that three months ago - but I am very relieved to be diagnosed and appreciate I am lucky to get free Vt B12 injections - forever.

Suggestion: doctors have weekly meetings and actually share undiagnosed cases and follow each other up to make sure no other patients are left like this. the patient charter addresses the quality and attention from doctors, not the equal opportunities no one really cares about when they are sick/scared.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››