"Appendectomy"

About: St Peter's Hospital / General surgery

(as the patient),

I was admitted to the Surgical Assessment Unit at St Peters Hospital in Chertsey, Surrey. I had severe stabbing pain in the lower right of my abdomen and had been referred from a local out of hours doctor. I arrived I the evening and was finally seen by a doctor after 12. He explained that there were only two doctors working that night for the whole hospital, so of course I understood why I had to wait so long. He examined my tummy and asked lots of questions and decided that it probably wasn't appendicitis but I should stay in overnight as my bloods were abnormal. I was put on an IV drip for antibiotics and fluids.

The next day, I was taken for an ultra sound and internal exam. Where I was told I had a uterine fibroid but she did not see any signs of appendicitis. I was then moved to the Kingfisher ward, Bay C. I was told I needed a CT scan and this could not happen until the following day.

I had my CT scan on the 3rd day, a junior doctor came to see me after to tell me that I did have appendicitis and they would operate on me the following day by laparoscopy to remove the appendix and I would not need to have the Flexi-sig procedure that was originally booked. The nurse then came to take me for my Flexi-sig at which point the doctor said "oh yes, you should probably have that anyway". It seems to me that this was a complete waste of time as they already knew I had appendicitis but they went ahead with this procedure anyway. Later that day a second doctor came to see me and as I was out of my bed getting changed she said very rudely "oh, I shouldn't think that a patient who is out of her bed needs to have their appendix removed". I explained to her that I was on a lot of pain killers to mask the symptoms and she said she would assess me in the morning. I had another sleepless night to wait.

On Wednesday morning a senior consultant came to assess me and said that yes I would need surgery that day. In the afternoon, 3 days after I had been admitted I went for the surgery. The anaesthetist and surgeons were all a credit to St Peters and made me feel more relaxed about the surgery beforehand, particularly the female anaesthetist.

Once back on the ward the nurses did their best to relieve the pain, however during the first night as my blood pressure and heart rate were so low they could not give me any pain relief at all and I was in agony.

I asked my partner to visit me next morning to help me to the toilet as all the nurses were busy, they asked him to leave and he requested someone help me to the toilet in that case, once he had left no-one did. The Doctor came to see me and said I could leave that evening potentially. I told the nurse in charge, later that day I wasn't comfortable leaving as I was in so much pain and she was fine with that. Another nurse asked if I was leaving later on and I told her about my conversation with the previous nurse and she walked off without acknowledgement, shouting to her colleagues that I wasn’t leaving.

Ever since that point I was made to feel like a burden and that I was taking up space unnecessarily. I had no sleep that night and could hear the nurses/doctors on night duty talking to each other about what on earth I was still doing here. I was actually worried they were going to ask me to leave in the middle of the night. It seems to me that if I had been diagnosed correctly on first/second day and operated on the same day, I could have in fact left the hospital by the third day. Instead I endured the long waits for tests/scans because I understand the strain the NHS is under but this courtesy was not reflected back to me with my post-op care. The pain that I would feel after surgery was never explained to me either so I was left feeling alone, in pain and I felt bullied out of a hospital bed.

Understandably on the next morning, still in a great deal of pain - I wanted to leave this unwelcoming environment as soon as possible. I could hear a staff member talking about all the cases on the ward and when she got to me, their summary was; "should of left last night". I was never at any time approached about leaving, I would have preferred a more upfront, honest approach. If anyone had said to me 'we need to discharge you today as we need your bed for an urgent case', I would of happily got myself together and vacated even though I was still in agony. Instead what I received was a stream of resentful, unkind comments which perhaps were designed to make me feel uncomfortable and unwelcome so that I would leave.

As I had not had any sleep I got up at 6am, showered, got dressed, still in a lot of pain and waited to be discharged. If I hadn't forcefully enquired about extra dressings and painkillers to take with me, I would have been sent home with nothing. I left with my partner at and he went back to the hospital to get my painkillers and sick note for me

I know the NHS is buckling under the pressure and I know how hard all the staff work, but this kind of tense environment does not lend itself to patient well being and something desperately needs to be done to ease the pressure on the NHS and it's patients.

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