"Appalling service: North Middlesex University Hospital"

About: North Middlesex Hospital / Respiratory medicine

(as the patient),

In December 2009 I visited the chest department at North Middx University Hospital (NMUH). During the four hours I was there I had an appalling experience that left me feeling upset and harassed.

The whole experience was a shambles. It began with me receiving my appointment letter the day before my appointment, and being told I had to give 7 days notice if I wanted to cancel or re-book. There were no proper directions to the department, and when I arrived there was no general reception area or anyone to ask. It took me over half an hour of wandering through anonymous corridors to find the Chest department.

Once in the department, I was told to take a seat, and then immediately shouted at by a nurse for sitting in the wrong waiting area. The same nurse then told me to queue with a group of other patients, and shouted at us once again for all coming to be seen at the same time. She then insisted on weighing us all, which was completely unnecessary in my case, and meant more queuing and time-wasting. I also felt that she and another nurse were bullying the more vulnerable patients, by speaking down to them and ordering them around. The nurses were very scruffy and seemed constantly annoyed, as if we were causing them trouble.

Upon returning to the main waiting room, I asked the receptionist when I was likely to be seen (my appointment should have been at 1pm and it was now 1.30). She looked completely blank and simply told me to sit down and wait. When the consultant arrived he asked me why I hadn't had an x-ray, and blamed me for not taking the initiative and going to the x-ray department myself.

At the x-ray department, which was scruffy and dirty, I waited in another corridor with two elderly women and a man in a wheelchair with breathing apparatus. Whenever the radiologist appeared we tried to ask how long we would be waiting, but he simply told us rudely that we would be called when it was our turn. For half an hour we sat and listened to him chat to a nurse before I was finally called for my x-ray. Inside the room, I had to ask him to leave while I undressed, and after the x-ray he wanted to call in the next patient before I had finished dressing.

When I eventually saw the consultant (over an hour late) he was very friendly, although his advice was not particularly helpful. I was then taken to have breathing tests done, where I explained that I was feeling dizzy and weak. However, the person carrying out the test still insisted on testing and re-testing my breathing despite the fact that it was causing me discomfort. She conveyed the results of my breath tests to the specialist, but would not give them to me, saying I would have to wait two months to get the results.

I left the department feeling very upset and ill, and went to the canteen where I tried and failed to get a decent meal, as apparently 3pm is an inconvenient time for anyone to want to eat. Not looking forward to my follow-up appointment next month.

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