"Nobody asked about my psychological difficulties"

About: City Hospital campus / General surgery

(as the patient),

I went for minor breast surgery in the City Hospital Day Case unit today. I am pretty confident my GP had done as she'd said she would and written in her referral letter that I have post-traumatic psychological problems. Certainly the unit had picked up that my GP had suggested I would be more comfortable with a female doctor. It would have helped me if a nurse had asked how my psychological difficulties might affect me during my time in the unit, and what I would have found helpful.

When I started to have difficulties, they did move me into the ward so I wasn't on my own waiting for hours, but they didn't talk to me about me being upset or ask what might help. It wasn't that they were busy all the time. For some of the wait I was the only patient and the nurses were just chatting at the nurses' station. I felt they thought I was worried about the procedure. I wasn't. Being confined was the problem. I waited from 10. 15 - 2pm before going to surgery. My appointment had been for 11. 30 but they'd rung at 8. 30am and asked me to come 'as soon as I could'. I needn't have been in the unit all that time.

It didn't help either that the only magazine on the table had on the cover a story similar to my own trauma. I turned it over. Someone turned it back. Later in the day, a nurse attending the patient next to me looked at the magazine and removed it. Perhaps, like me, she thought it inappropriate in that environment.

On the plus side, the Theatre Support nurse was superb, and the theatre staff and surgeon excellent. The discharge nurse gave me clear information. All the staff in the unit were polite, but I didn't feel seen as an individual by most of them.

In fairness to all of them, I find it a common problem in hospitals for physical conditions that psychological or mental health issues disclosed by me or on my behalf by my GP, are ignored. We are whole people, mind and body. Perhaps it's a topic for additional training.

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Response from Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

Thank you for taking time to get in touch with us. I’m sorry to hear that we didn’t consider your psychological (and emotional) needs as well might have during your stay with us. I am also sorry that the magazine you saw on the unit caused unnecessary upset. This is something that we should have considered in advance. It is important that we learn from such cases to improve the experience of future patients. If you’d like to discuss this with me further I’d be very happy to do so. You can contact me on maria.duffin-mills@nuh.nhs.uk or via 0115 9691169 ext. 56055.

Kind regards,

Maria Dufifn-Mills.

Matron, Breast Services.