"first class service from NHS Scotland"

About: Golden Jubilee National Hospital / Cardiac Surgery Scottish Ambulance Service / Emergency Ambulance Western Isles Hospital / Accident & Emergency

(as the patient),

In 2006 I had an Exercise Cardiogram at Raigmore Hospital Inverness. I was told there was nothing to worry about, however high Cholesterol was discovered.

From 2007 to 2014 I was on and off Statins to see which best worked and ended up with 40mg Atorvastatin. During that period there was various chest murmurs, double beat, etc. but I never felt unwell though.

Last September 2014 my partner, and I attended a wedding in Blackpool; we had a great time with plenty dad dancing etc, I had no problems. This was followed with a normal working week, including office work, driving, moving of stores etc. However on walking home on Friday I had chest pains. On walking to do voluntary work on Saturday there were no problems. However on the normal Sunday walk with the dog bad chest pains forced me to stop numerous times.

On the Monday I walked to work as normal. Bad chest pains forced me to stop numerous times. I phoned for and got appointment with my doctor; who arranged a cardiogram before she saw me, then promptly sent me to hospital. My partner came down and drove me to hospital, however I went in to finish off some work (Probably foolishly! ) and pick up my so far unwritten will – these things tending to concentrate the mind. After what I felt was a pleasant afternoon being fussed over by pretty doctors and nurses and writing my will I was discharged with Bisoprolol fumarate, dispersible aspirin, Atorvastatin 80mg and GNT.

On the Wednesday I attended an exercise ECG and I didn’t last 4 minutes. The diagnosis was Angina. Deborah the heart nurse and her staff were excellent all the way through keeping me informed of what was happening.

That weekend, probably still in denial, I attended a volunteer training weekend. While I managed okay, my colleagues assisted and I did no loading or unloading.

On the Tuesday after I attended work as normal. However I had a 20-25 minute attack of angina and the GNT would not relieve symptoms. I eventually called 999. Sods law stated that as soon as I called 999 the angina started to ease, however the 999 operator still called the ambulance. When the ambulance turned up the technician was an an ex trainee. How embarrassing! The crew took me to the Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway. After more tests I was discharged from hospital at 9PM with Amlodipine.

On turning up for work the next day my boss phoned and told to go on sick leave for two weeks. I finished normal workday before I knocked off.

I then spent a frustrating time trying to work out what I could and couldn’t do. I discovered I could walk up to 800 meters with pre-treatment puff of GNT and walking slowly. I also caught up with some reading. On 1 October I had a review of the exercise test at Western Isles Day Hospital with Deborah the heart nurse and received an appointment for the day cardiac clinic at the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank for 3 October, staying two nights at the Beardmore Hotel.

On 2 October we flew to Glasgow. My partner was escort. The flight was very bouncy and my partner became travel sick. Therefore she became the patient and I the escort.

After a very comfortable night in the Beardmore Hotel (What a place! ) I attended the Cardiac Day Clinic at the Golden Jubilee Hospital at 8AM. Now here is about the only minor negative in the story. We were directed to the day clinic, found a sign for the waiting area – and waited. There seemed to be very little happening. A passing nurse asked what we were waiting for and we said the cardiac day clinic. She took us through a door into the unit which had lots going on. If it wasn’t for her we might have waited too long and missed my appointment. Anyway…

I was settled into a side ward and told to put on gown and paper underpants – very elegant! The doctor came and told me what was going to happen and the nurses started their very efficient fussing and I was prepared for my procedure. I was to undergo an exploratory angiogram and depending on the results may have stents fitted there and then.

There was another patient in the sideward with me and he went first. Then it was my turn. I was offered anaesthesia, which I refused as I wanted to know what was going on. I was then taken into the theatre – and it certainly was not underwhelming! I would describe it as a 21st century interpretation of Baron Frankenstein’s laboratory. However all the electricity is well under control in the form of video walls, x-ray machines, computers and all the controlling electronics required.

I was placed on the slab – I mean couch – and was told what was going to happen. Now please understand, and I certainly do not mean it in a bad way; their manner was very positive. There were no please, perhaps or thank yous. It was clear, matter of fact and with no alternatives.

The anaesthetist prepared my arm and inserted the catheter into my wrist – and didn’t mess about.

I was told they were injecting the radioactive liquid and I would feel a tingling in my arm – and I did.

I was told that the X-ray machine would move over my chest area and take many x-rays – and it did. It seemed a bit like one of the scenes from the movie ‘Flight of the Navigator. ’

As it was doing this I was looking at the video wall out of the corner of my eye. On one of the displays was what looked like a heart. Then it struck me – ‘That’ll be my heart! ’

I was told that two of my heart arteries were fine, but the third was severely constricted and that they were going to fit a stent right away.

They told me they were inserting the catheter with the stent and I would feel some sensations in my chest – and I did.

They told me the stent was now in position and they were going to release it and I might feel something – ‘poing’ and I most certainly did! I should add that there was no pain at all – merely the unusual sensation of things moving in my chest.

They then told me that everything was in position and they would be removing all the wires and catheters and again I might feel something while they did this – and I did.

The anaesthetist strapped up the incision in my wrist with a pneumatic dressing – interesting in itself.

I was sat up and showed two x-rays of my heart on the video wall – before and after. The doctor pointed out the three arteries. On the before x-ray two of the arteries looked like big thick sausages from the butchers. The other looked skinny and shrunken like a piece of bacon rind. That was the severely constricted artery. On the after X-ray there were three big sausages – one of them looking slightly different. All three arteries were fully open.

From the theatre I was wheeled back to the side ward – I was probably in the theatre for twenty to thirty minutes maximum, and more fussing by nurses. I was discharged about 2PM.

Six hours for pre-operation, non-invasive heart surgery and post-operation. Modern heart procedures are fantastic.

My partner came and visited me in the unit; she thought I was on some sort of natural high. When I was discharged we went down to the canteen for hot chocolate and then I came down with a bump. She was asking me questions on what happened and although I had the answers in my brain I couldn’t answer her verbally. We went back to the room in the Beardmore for a snooze and I slept soundly for two hours. That sorted me out.

Next day we flew back to Stornoway and I was told to take a further three weeks sick leave. Since then I have returned to work, been seen by and discharged from the cardio nurse and am undertaking cardio rehabilitation in the local sports centre. I am on five drugs, three of which will stop, two I will be taking for life.

The flash to bang time from first diagnoses to procedure was three weeks – I really feel that I have received a first class service from NHS Scotland.

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


Response from Martin Esposito, Patient Experience Manager, Corporate Affairs and Engagement Department, Scottish Ambulance Service

picture of Martin Esposito

Hi Thieving Storeman

I was pleased and fascinated to read about your experience. One of the disadvantages of being a paramedic is that you are often only with patients for a short period of time and don’t really get a good understanding of their journey. Therefore, I found being able to read your story extremely enlightening. From a Scottish Ambulance Service perspective, I am pleased that we were there for you when you needed us and I am really pleased to read that you are making a good recovery.

Take care


  • Thieving Storeman thinks this response is helpful
    {{helpful-1}} of {{totalOthers()}} other people think so too

Response from Christine McGuinness, Communications Manager, Golden Jubilee National Hospital

Dear Thieving Storeman

Thank you very much for sharing your experiences from the Golden Jubilee National Hospital: we are delighted to hear that you were so happy with your overall experience, and it is incredibly helpful to receive such a detailed amount of insight into your journey through our services.

We were sorry to learn that your admission to the Cardiology Day Unit was delayed. We have spoken with our team who have advised that patients are admitted to the ward at 7.45am and the area is regularly checked to ensure people are not left waiting: if this was not your experience, we are very sorry.

The signage in our waiting area has recently been updated, meaning it is now easier to locate the Day Unit and Patient Waiting area; following your feedback, the smaller signage will be reviewed and we will identify ways to improve our overall admission process.

We are also aware that patients do not have the opportunity to see the Cath Lab ahead of their procedure; we are currently working with one of our Consultant Cardiologists on a project which should ensure patients and relatives are able to see the Lab on screen, to get a sense of the setting and the layout of the facility.

Once again, thank you very much for your feedback, and if you have any enquiries or concerns, please do not hesitate to get back in touch.

Kind regards

Communications Department

Golden Jubilee National Hospital

  • Thieving Storeman thinks this response is helpful
    {{helpful-1}} of {{totalOthers()}} other people think so too

Update posted by Thieving Storeman (the patient)

Negative stories always make the headlines. You never hear stories such as 'Ambulance crew save woman/man* having heart attack.' or 'Heart unit gives 24 people back their lives in one day.'

I just want my positive story to be available to reassure others.

Delete as applicable - other genders may be available. (Possibly)

Response from Maggie Fraser, Communications Manager, NHS Western Isles

Dear Thieving Storeman

Thank you very much for taking the time to share your experience with us in such detail.

I am pleased that you had a positive outcome and that health services worked well together to provide prompt and effective care.

Your comments have been passed on to the departments and staff involved.

Thanks again.

With kind regards

Maggie Fraser

Communications Manager

NHS Western Isles

  • Thieving Storeman thinks this response is helpful
    {{helpful-1}} of {{totalOthers()}} other people think so too