"Trying to get help for my daughter"

About: Aberdeen Royal Infirmary / Emergency Medicine NHS 24 / NHS 24 (111 service) Scottish Ambulance Service / Emergency Ambulance

(as a parent/guardian),

My daughter’s partner called me at 7. 00 am in September asking me to go over as she was very unwell, vomiting and in a great deal of pain in her stomach. She had had diarrhoea since 4. 00 pm the day before and had to come home from work. She had wakened with vomiting fro 2. 00 am that morning and the pain in her abdomen was unbearable. I encouraged her to hold on until 8. 00 am until our GP was available but she was desperate for help so I rang NHS 24. This I did with dread from previous experiences which have not been helpful.

I relayed all her symptoms to the person who went through the usual checklist procedure but not without me running back and forth to my daughter, who was mostly having over the toilet being sick, asking her various questions. As my daughter had recently been told she had kidney stones and she also has ovarian cysts, I was extremely worried that it could be either of these things. By the time I finished speaking to NHS 24 they advised that as their doctors were now finished they were referring me back to our GP. I hung up. The time was now 7. 50 am. I rang the surgery and pressed 1 for emergency. The current climate of lack of GP’s has necessitated a triage system being set up in our practice for the first time. I spoke with someone and once again relayed all I’d been through with NHS 24 and again had to go and ask my daughter questions – I was then passed over to a GP who asked me how she could help, meaning I had to go through all the circumstances leading up to my phone call again. She then asked why I didn’t call an ambulance. By this time I was very upset myself, very concerned about my daughter and totally frustrated that I was getting nowhere and I was extremely angry when she said that because I was doing all I could to avoid that.

The ambulance arrived – the paramedics did their job and we were conveyed to the hospital where my daughter was taken for assessment. I was called in eventually, she was told she had gastroenteritis but she was still in considerable pain and this was causing my daughter much anxiety. She had been given paracetamol and anti-sickness medication on arrival at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary but the pain persisted. Eventually they decided to give her some fluids intravenously with the suggestion that that might help. After a while they told her she was being discharged and they would give her pain killers. She felt so unwell and asked for more pain relief and suggested she didn’t think she could get to the car – this was disregarded – the canula was removed and she was discharged. I was advised to ring the GP when we got home and ask for an emergency appointment or at least a call back from the GP to discuss what had happened.

I spoke with the Practice Manager on our return home and the doctor did call. On speaking to the doctor she said that the symptoms I had described sounded very serious and that is why she suggested the ambulance. I am a mother, I am not a doctor or a nurse, and in a distressing situation it isn’t easy to keep calm and carry on. She spoke with my daughter and arranged a prescription to be left at reception for some muscle relaxant tablets. The alternative was an emergency appointment at the surgery the same afternoon which my daughter did not feel well enough to attend.

I despair that anything more serious ever happens to any of my family – I feel this system clearly doesn’t work and just adds 100% to the already stressful situation. I felt the hospital didn’t think we should be there – but we had been advised to go there by the GP. We are not the kind of people who are serial abusers of the medical system which I appreciate is a major problem in the NHS. What with NHS 24, which in my opinion is a shambles, and the increasing shortage of GPs I wonder where this is all going to end.

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Responses

Response from Gina Alexander, Director, Patient Opinion Scotland, Patient Opinion

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Dear MoMomap

The Ambulance service and NHS 24 have just let us know that we've made a mistake with tagging when we published your posting: I am sorry about that. We only tagged Aberdeen Royal and the Ambulance Service but not NHS 24. This means NHS 24 were not alerted to your story. NHS 24 have a great record of responding very quickly but because we didn't let them know they weren't able to.

We've fixed this now and NHS 24 can respond to you on the website. Again our apologies for the mistake and to NHS 24 too.

I hope your daughter is feeling so much better.

Warm wishes

Gina

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Response from Linda Oldroyd, Nurse Consultant Patient Safety and Experience, NHS Grampian

Dear parent

Your story as a carer sounds horrible and I can understand why you feel distressed and frustrated. You did the right thing by following the GP's instructions and no one should make you feel that you were wasting hospital time. Whilst we acknowledge the constant pressure on beds we still need to treat every individual with the dignity and respect they deserve. I apologise that you were not listened to as a family and for the upset this has caused.

If you would like to get in touch to share more details of your story we could do more to investigate and learn. However I understand if you choose not to.

I expect NHS24 will post a response in due course.

I can be contacted by email at loldroyd@nhs.net or by telephone on 013435567900

In the meantime I join Gina in wishing your daughter and you both well.

Kind regards

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Response from Shona Lawrence, Patient Affairs Manager, NHS 24

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Dear MoMomap

Thank you for your posting which I have read with concern. You will be aware that NHS 24 were not originally tagged to your story, therefore we have only just yesterday been made aware of this.

I appreciate that this would have been a very worrying time for you, and for your daughter, and I echo the responses provided by Gina at Patient Opinion and from Linda from NHS Grampian in that I do hope that your daughter is feeling much better.

Here at NHS 24 patient safety is our top priority. We welcome and consider all feedback very seriously as this helps us to improve the service we provide to patients, carers, and their families. It is clear that your the call to NHS 24 concerning your daughter was received by us near the time when patient care is transferred back to GP Surgeries, during the daytime. NHS 24 are keen to explore this particular contact with our service in detail, therefore I would be pleased if you, or your daughter, would be kind enough to contact me directly to provide additional detail. This would enable a full review of your call to our service. I can be contacted directly on 0141 337 4582 or by email at patientaffairs@nhs24.scot.nhs.uk

I do hope that you will allow us the opportunity of exploring this particular contact in more detail. I was also sorry to read of your overall negative comments in relation to the service provided by NHS 24 and I would be keen to learn further of this also. We endeavour, at all times, to ensure that persons who use our service, at what, we fully appreciate are worrying and distressing times, have a positive experience.

Thank you again for taking the time to tell your story. I do wish both you and your daughter well.

With kind regards

Shona Lawrence

NHS 24 Patient Affairs Manager

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Response from Linda Oldroyd, Nurse Consultant Patient Safety and Experience, NHS Grampian

Apologies I posted my telephone number incorrectly.

It should be 01343 567900.

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Response from Shona Lawrence, Patient Affairs Manager, NHS 24

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Dear M

I write to thank you for taking the time to speak with me on the telephone. I fully appreciate that this has been a terribly worrying time for your family.

As explained to you, I have shared your feedback more widely within NHS 24 at this time. We are keen however to fully explore this, so should your daughter wish to contact me in the future, I would be pleased to hear from her.

I do hope that you found our conversation helpful and that this offered assurance to you of our commitment to take forward any issues raised. Please do not hesitate to contact me again on 0141 337 4582 if helpful.

With kind regards

Shona

Shona Lawrence

NHS 24 Patient Affairs Manager

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