"Elective Surgery cancelled at the theatre doors"

About: Derriford Hospital / General surgery

(as the patient),

Cancelled elective surgery whilst at the theatre doors, following seventeen hours of admission that was chaotic, uncoordinated and my presence and procedure questioned throughout. My experience is one of trauma on both occasions of surgery within the last twelve months. The last within the last 24 hours. A procedure that at numerous different times I was told essential and required surgical intervention for my continued health to prevent the spread of 'Liver Metastases’.

My surgery was cancelled at the theatre doors for the sake of another emergency admission. I completely support prioritising a medical emergency, but the experience and factoring in that clearly that Derriford Hospital survive on crisis management of beds. I had to stay in overnight preceding the operation in a bid to barter my ward bed to secure a high dependency bed to secure surgery which I felt was ridiculous. Despite this at the very last minutes on entry to theatre preparation area the option was snatched away. Any personal distress experienced through this run up to surgery from anxiety and concern about how to manage the next time or indeed if surgery was to be offered again was met by what felt like some sort of negative response and suggestion that the surgery from that point was to be questioned.

There were even discussions at that point as to whether it was in fact valid to proceed. I am grateful to the NHS for their interventions, but question the validity of a system that leaves a patient hanging at such a point is unforgivable.

The frustration and discomfort experienced by the incredibly skilled and professional team of surgeons and anaesthetists who seem to have to talk patients down through this time of heightened anxiety is equally incorrect. I truly hope this message and feedback of experience is not misinterpreted. The person who required surgery so urgently has received an accurate response from the medial team.

The system by which the doctors and patients have to manage the difficulties is incorrect and I personally have found this to be emotionally traumatic to be part of it. There seems to be confusion in the handling of cases, where files are not where they should be in wards therefore, consent forms not ready and present, wrist bands not issued until the following day from admission, no fluids run through despite no fluids since the early hours of the morning and to be told on several occasions this is essential and you will be prepped for theatre on the are including the fluids. This did not occur. In fact it seemed there was a complete lack of guidance for ward staff.

On two occasions involving a rather difficult management of a disease that is not easily detected and monitored, there have been a number of experiences that involve lengthy calls to secure test results in time for case conferences, or MDT meetings, urgent requests for interventions and assessments being lost, clinics that over run extensively and surgeries. Both occasions surgeries that were planned then threatened with, and indeed now actually cancelled at such a late stage in the game. My sympathies remain with many of the fine staff who deliver the service as their dedication often gets the job done, however patchy and thrown together it is it is delivered. But as a patient, experiencing that element needs to be told. I think this service needs to shape up and respect that people involved in treatment and their families who are in attendance through prolonged disease management, and who have to suffer inconvenience, and bear witness to difficulties that are extensive in each and every step of the way. In order to maintain goodwill of the patient and the carers, and maintain that it is certain that a patient’s distress and coping ability throughout the mundane and critical experiences be considered in all decisions about how clinics, surgeries and support systems are operated.

My experience so far has been marred by the inconsistent good practice of the NHS. In my experience, the Consultants and Medical teams are desperately trying to deliver what is clearly not manageable. This is me being generous. What I really feel on a personal level is shock and utter disgust at many of the situations I have personally been prescribed to experience. I am not in this forum directing my unhappy expressions toward any specific clinic, team or staff. So many of those personnel are incredibly dedicated and in truth are expected to deliver something I think is quite impossible. I am going to continue to share the specific negative experiences as a formal complaint.

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Responses

Response from Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Dear Patient

I am very sorry to read about your recent experience and thank you for taking the time to provide such comprehensive feedback.

I note that you will be making a formal complaint and therefore I shall allow due process to be followed.

Kind regards

Jemma

Patient Experience Support Manager

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Response from Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Dear Patient

I am sorry to see that you found my earlier response unhelpful.

Would you like to contact me direct so that we may arrange a convenient time to have a discussion regarding your concerns?

My direct email address is jemma.waugh@nhs.net

I look forwad to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Jemma

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