"The NHS is better than ever"

About: Hinchingbrooke Hospital / Ear, Nose and Throat Hinchingbrooke Hospital / General surgery

(as the patient),

I have had a problem with one ear for many years following childhood infections, various mishaps and three solid years of snorkeling and diving the Seychelles. But that's another story!

Several years ago, my GP referred me to the Hinchingbrooke Hospital for checks that showed that my hearing was impaird due to my eardrum having collapsed inwards.

I was supposed to get a CT Scan at the time, but my wife became ill and I put my relatively minor problem on the back burner.

This year, my hearing had declined to the point where it was becoming a handicap so I went back to my GP and restarted the process. I soon had an appointment for tests and it was decided that I would need a gromit inserted into my eardrum to allow pressure equalisation. I was warned that I might have to wait a couple of months, but that was fine with me. In the event I only waited a few weeks and soon I was given my pre-med questionnaire by appointment over the phone. Then, a week or so ago, I had a call and a letter, confirming the appointment and details of the admission process.

So today I had my operation!

The admission process went like clockwork and I was soon taken to my private cubicle where the paperwork was checked several times and my pulse, blood pressure and temperature were checked. I was treated very well by cheerful nurses and porters who all seemed to get on extremely well with each other. Staff treated patients and each other with familiarity and a light touch, but with respect. Most importantly they checked and double checked every procedure. I was so relaxed that I fell asleep long before I was medicated.

The surgeon visited me while I was still compus mentus and had a good look in my ear. He decided that a grommit might not solve my problem and took time to expain that he would "take a look around in there" while I was under general anaesthetic but would only fit a grommit if his examination showed that it would help.

Of course, I don't remember anything for the next hour but the surgeon was with me as soon as I was alert to explain that he had found a kind of birdsnest of old skin and gunk in there and removed some of it.

The next step will be a CT scan to see the extent of the mess so that we can decide what to do about it.

Back in my cubicle, the nurse spoiled me with tea and sandwiches and kept an eye on me while I had a few more naps.

Finally, the young locum/assitant doctor who had been with me in the threatre called by to make sure that I understood what had been done and why and to make sure I was fit to go home, .

What could have been done better? Almost nothing, but just one little thing.

When you go for an ear operation, it is quite likely that you will be a bit deaf! I missed my first call at the staff base because I couldn't hear it. It would be better if the roll was called in the waiting area and not from the desk.

Its just a little thing and we laughed about it at the time, so perhaps the message got through.

I realise that this is not avery exciting story. Nobody died and there was no mess to clean up. nobody got sued and there was nothing really to complain about, but I hope that the other patients who I met today will tell their stories too.

The NHS still works for me; in fact, it's better than ever.

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