About: Royal Hallamshire Hospital Royal Hallamshire Hospital Sheffield S10 2JF
I attended a genetic counselling appointment at the Gynaecology Clinic. The reception staff were friendly, the waiting room was clean and large enough for all patients awaiting to be seen. I was seen by a consultant and two nurses. The two nurses were friendly and approachable. First of all, the appointment letter did not mention what the appointment was for. I knew my GP wanted to refer me to the Clinic because of the history of cancer in my family but we had that conversation almost half a year ago. Two months ago I spent 3 days in hospital following turning up at the A&E with a horrible pain in my lower abdomen. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease was suspected and I was told my GP would be contacted to refer me for further testing, so I assumed that was the purpose of the appointment at the Clinic. I understand the importance of being able to provide as much information as possible about the family history of cancer when being assessed for genetic risks but I feel was not given the opportunity to prepare. I only know my mother's family history and had I known what the appointment was for, I would have contacted my father's family beforehand to find out more as I know there might have been cases of cancer. I contacted my father's family after the appointment and found out there were in fact 5 additional cases of cancer involving 2 of breast/ovarian cancer (what I am being screened for)! I was not given the opportunity to have this information at hand before the appointment. The interview itself lasted 5-10 minutes and I was allowed to speak for maybe 15% of that time, only to provide short answers. I was asked basic questions such as age, whether I was a smoker, whether my cervical screening was up to date etc. I was briefly asked about my family's history but the interview was so rushed and I was completely unprepared. I tried to revisit and provide more information later but I was cut off by the consultant informing me that most patients' stories don't check out anyway. I was told a written questionnaire would be sent to me at a later date. Overall, I feel disappointed. I will be booking an appointment with a private consultant as I know I shouldn't ignore the risks and I know I can't stay on chemoprevention forever. I was repeatedly warned about the risks of chemoprevention during the appointment but no guidance was provided with regards to minimising the risk/alternatives.