"I felt like the patients were the least important people"

About: Doncaster Royal Infirmary / Ophthalmology

(as the patient),

I was referred by my optician. This meant he had to write to my GP, who then sent several pages of paper to me in the post with instructions on how to book an appointment at a limited number of options.

Why couldn't my optician refer my directly? Going via the GP added no value; it was pure bureaucracy.

I choose a date in Sept. A few days later, I received a phone call from DRI booking office telling me that my referral had been reviewed and I needed to be seen as an emergency the following day.

I attended the outpatients department. It was not clear where I had to go, but eventually found the right reception. The receptionist asked a few details and was pleasant. I then had to take a piece of paper and put it in a box. I didn't know what to do next, so asked a couple of nurses, who seemed annoyed that I had interupted their conversation, and was pointed in the geenral direction of a waiting area. I waited for 45 miniutes past my appointment time.

My name was called out and I was directed to have my vision checked and dilating drops instilled. A further wait of about 20 minutes. I was called to see the doctor, who put local anaesthetic drops into my eye (no explanation) and performed several uncomfortable procedures. A 'clinical attachment doctor' gave me a tissue to wipe away the tears streaming down my cheek. She was the only one who seemed compassionate. The doctor told me I had a hole in my retina and they would send for me to have 'laser'.

I interacted with about nine members of staff from receptionists to nurses, doctors and healthcare assistants. At no time did anyone tell me their name or role. Procedures were done to me without explanation or warning. Scant information was told to me about 'laser' with no explanations of alternatives or asking my consent. At one point, a HCA came up to me and said, 'What's your name? '. I answered her. She said, 'No, you're not one of mine', and walked off!

I noticed similar treatment of other patients. For example, a gentleman next to me pointed out to a HCA (he probably thought she was a nurse), several notices on the wall saying that if you were unsure how to instill drops, then ask a nurse. She said she didn't know, but then gave her opinion, which was unhelpful, and left it like that!

Overall, I felt like the patients were the least important people in the process; almost as if we were invisible or irrelevant. Nobody smiled, talked to me politely (except the receptionist) or gave the impression of being pleased to see me.

This was a very stressful visit; I am worried I could lose my vision. The attitude of the staff was very poor, indifferent and rude.

Please improve your customer contact skills training. By that, I mean, do some!

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Response from Gill Pickersgill, Communications & Engagement Officer, Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

I am sorry to hear that there were aspects of your visit that were not of the standard you had a right to expect from the Ophthalmology team. I have passed your concerns to Matron Marshall and Mr Jayamanne (Speciality Lead) who will discuss the issues you identified at the next Quality / Governance meeting.

The Ophthalmology department is shortly undergoing an extensive refurbishment which will not only improve the environment for patients but also streamline the pathway, making the experience more positive for our service users. Your concerns are helpful in allowing us to take on board your observation and ensure they are addressed in the service redesign.

Thank you for your feedback.


Gill Pickersgill

Communications Officer

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