"Delicate hand surgery"

About: Bassetlaw Hospital Doncaster Royal Infirmary / General surgery

(as the patient),

Mine is a good news story from a very happy user of the NHS. However, there are some lessons to be learned from my experiences.

A growth developed on my right hand as a result of the remnant of a splinter which punctured the skin between my thumb and index finger. A granuloma developed after 18 months and I was persuaded by the family to see a doctor in my Health Centre. Within days I was sent to the specialist in delicate hand surgery at the Bassetlaw hospital who sent me to Doncaster RI for a sonic scan. This revealed the remains of the splinter very clearly but I was sent back to Bassetlaw for an MRI scan. No reason was given for this decision. As a result of an administrative muddle Bassetlaw thought I was to have a second sonic scan but a second interview with the specialist sorted out this mix-up.

The MRI scan was done in Bassetlaw by a traveling team in an articulated lorry. The scan had to be done twice because the position I had to assume was so uncomfortable the movement was inevitable - I had to lie on my stomach with my hand in the air. The second attempt was successful because the operators thought to give me a foam cushion to support my hand. No explanation was given as to why the MRI scan was necessary but I guess it gave more detail to the surgeon about the disposition of nerves around the area and eliminated the existence of other growths in the body.

The operation was done in day surgery under a general anesthetic but no explanation was given for this, even though I requested one from the anesthetist. I would have preferred to have a local anesthetic and said so.

The care I received from the nursing staff was superb and the operation was entirely successful. The scar is barely discernible and I have regained feeling in all my fingers. I consider this to be a remarkable achievement and am extremely grateful.

The lesson for the NHS is that explanations of decisions taken on the patients behalf should be shared with the patient. I had complete confidence in the staff dealing with my case and would not have challenged their opinions but it would have been nice to be an active participant in the decision making process.

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