"It was hard to get the NHS to take me seriously"

About: NHS 24 NHS Lothian Western General Hospital / Respiratory Medicine

(as the patient),

Last year I fell ill. It started like a bad cold but then started to deteriorate quickly, I had tried to see a GP the week before but there were no free appointments. When it did deteriorate it was fast, I had just enough strength to text work in the morning and then nothing. My wife got home to find me in bed and the bed soiled.

She called NHS24 and we received a call from a doctor, he didn't want to speak to my wife, only me - problem was I didn't know what was going on, he said some stuff that I didn't pick up on so I just gave the phone back to my wife. The doctor had said he refused to come out and see me because I was a 40 year old man and if I needed care I could go to A&E to get it. As I was in no state we got an ambulance and went to hospital where I had a fit. I was kept in over night and sent home the next day.

I wasn't getting better so an appointment was made the next day for the out of hours GP. There I saw a nurse who focused on the white residue building on my mouth and the fact that I was highly dehydrated - anything I drank came right through the other end just moments later. She thought I might have thrush in my mouth and sent me away with some pills.

That night I got worse again and now I was coughing blood. Another out of ours appointment was made and this time the doctor I saw took no time in calling an ambulance to take me to Edinburgh's Western General. I don't recall too much about getting their except one discussion with a nurse, I told her that I had soiled myself and she responded with "could you not wait to go to the toilet"?

After admission I was diagnosed with Influenza A and pneumonia, treatment finally began.

It was a terrible experience but what was shocking was just how hard it was to get the NHS as an organisation to take me seriously. My wife really had to fight to get me seen, if it was just me I certainly would not have had the energy. Worryingly, I have been trying to see a doctor recently, I have been suffering with flu like symptoms for 4 weeks now. My local GP won't register me because it is full and the one I am registered with won't see me because I live more than 15 minutes away.

I intend to try and get seen in the out of hours but we will see how that goes. Sorry, but the NHS does not appear to be there for me.

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Response from Shona Lawrence, Patient Affairs Manager, NHS 24

picture of Shona Lawrence

Dear Raymond W

Thank you for sharing your experience. I was very sorry to learn of your illness last year and I do appreciate that this would have been a very worrying time for you and for your wife. I am also sorry to learn that you have been feeling unwell recently.

Within your Patient Opinion posting you mentioned contact with NHS 24 which is why Patient Opinion staff shared your story with us. From the detail you have provided, your contact with NHS 24 resulted in your care being passed to the Out of Hours service for further assessment. Here at NHS 24, our role is to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate onward care to manage their symptoms at the time of their call to our service. If you wish me to further explore your contact with NHS 24, I would be pleased to do so.

I note that you have explained that, due to issues with accessing GP care, you will try to be seen during the Out of Hours period. It may be helpful if I explain that the NHS 24 Unscheduled Care Service is available during the out of hours period for patients whose displaying symptoms are unable to wait until their GP surgery opens; however patient care during the daytime should be provided by the patient's own GP. I do appreciate the challenges you have described in accessing a GP.

Your story has been shared with my colleagues within NHS Lothian and I do hope that they can assist you further.

If you wish to contact me directly to discuss any aspect of the care you have received from NHS 24, I would be pleased to hear from you. My telephone number is 0141 337 4582 or you can email me at patientaffairs@nhs24.scot.nhs.uk

I do wish you well and hope that your current illness resolves soon.

With kind regards


Shona Lawrence

NHS 24 Patient Affairs Manager

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Response from Jeannette Morrison, Head of Patient Experience, NHS Lothian

Hi Raymond W,

Like Shona thank you for sharing your experiences with me and l am sorry to hear what a difficult time you have had.

To help me look into the difficulties that you have had l wonder if l can ask you to contact me directly and my details are (feedback@nhslothian.scot.nhs.uk) or Telephone 0131 536 3370 and I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Jeannette Morrison

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