"Infecious Diseases - Intimidating & Truly Awful"

About: The Royal Victoria Infirmary

Initial referral got lost - waited 6-7 months to be seen

Saw consultant who was very lovely person despite focussing on psychological issues

Requested copies of correspondence about me. Asked 4 times including a letter over 3 month period. 1st secretary incredibly rude/dismissive on phone and accused me of not ticking a box on a form - I did and when asked in person said yes, thanks I'd like copies of reports. 2nd secretary covering holidays was v.lovely and passed on message.

All requests were ignored.

Went for 2nd appointment, took friend - saw registrar with 2 medical students sitting in. It was incredibly intimidating.

I was told I ‘had an answer for everything.’

Also told I was ‘resistant’ as I didn’t feel the need to follow up a psychological intervention when I already have weekly psychotherapy.

There was a focus was on the psychological with no interest in my physical health. I was told my psychotherapy was the best treatment I could have.

I am a therapist myself and have worked in the NHS for a number of years. I said I had a pretty good measure on my mental health as you’d expect given my training and practice and said I’d really like my physical health problems addressing. I said I didn't think my foot drop, spinal inflammation, bulging disc, blood spots on skin, tremors etc had a psychological basis.

I wasn’t asked once how I was, how I’d been since my last visit, if there’d been any improvements/deteriorations etc. I was made to feel like a time waster and neurotic.

I was criticised for sleeping too much - 'you're sleeping too much...it's not healthy for anyone to be sleeping that much.' I agreed but said 'but what can I do? I feel incredibly unwell.' There was no interest in exploring why I might be sleeping that much be it chronic pain, chronic fatigue, orthostatic intolerance/heart going crazy when stood up, medication etc. Some days I feel like I've ran a marathon by 1pm as some tasks like e.g. showering will make my heart rate shoot up to 180bpm - that's pretty exhausting and debilitating.

I was criticised for having tried some gentle exercise and subsequently being v.unwell for 3-4 days. There was no suggestion of how I might manage my symptoms apart from 'gradually increasing things every day.'

There’d be no point in making a formal complaint about this as I don’t imagine anything would come of it whatsoever. I’d simply have a note on file stating I was a difficult patient. It’s pretty concerning though. In the years I’ve worked in the NHS there’s no way I’d ever dream of talking to a patient like this. This kind of treatment could seriously push someone over the edge if they’re struggling to manage long term chronic illness and/or mental health issues, more so if they don’t have the emotional reserve or support from friends and family to deal with such treatment. It might also mean patients stop seeking medical help when they could actually have something seriously wrong with them which needs addressing.

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from The Royal Victoria Infirmary

Thank you for leaving feedback on our services at Infectious Diseases, RVI. At the outset we would like to offer you an apology for the experience you have had whilst a patient, we are very sorry that you encountered such an unprofessional response from our staff and that you have found your experience in outpatients unsatisfactory .

We would like to discuss this with you but as your posting does not provide your full details, we are unable to contact you. Please would you contact the General Medicine Directorate so we can review your concerns and provide you with a direct apology. If you could contact the Directorate Manager, Ewan Dick on 0191 233 6161 extension 31682 to provide further details so that we can then address the issues that you have raised.

We welcome all feedback from patients and their relatives as we would always strive to improve our service and are very keen to respond to you in person. May we assure you that raising any concerns would have no impact on your ongoing care.

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