"Disempowering outpatient experience at Derriford Hospital"

About: Derriford Hospital / Dermatology

(as the patient),

I thought it important to share this story with you as it underlines the need for health services to not just focus on procedural service targets but on the very essence of what it "feels" like for a patient to receive care from them. Their "journey" if you like.

I attended an outpatient appoint at Derriford as a result of some concerns about a lesion on my face.

The department was clean and efficient and I was seen reasonably quickly (20 mins after my allotted time) which did not feel unreasonable.

The initial consultation was however extremely brief, and during this time I was told I would require surgery to my face involving the removal of a 3cm wide piece of my cheek, leaving a long scar. This was quite shocking at the time and I struggled to take it on board. Equally I was not given any length of time to do so.

The doctor never actually sat down to talk to me - they stood over me. The doctor who saw me then asked me to wait to see her consultant colleague. Once again this consultation was extremely brief and during this he reversed the first doctor's decision to remove a large part of my cheek and to just do a biopsy first... which I was glad about.

I found it odd that his spectacles - with microscope lenses attached to them - were in fact badly broken, with both lenses covered in extensive cracks.

So whilst everything seemed clean and timely I remain concerned about any potential diagnosis in view of the rapidity of the assessment, failure to really engage me to understand any of my ideas, concerns and expectations, differing clinical view, and broken examination equipment.

The episode didn't inspire confidence, and I feel slightly out of control and disempowered by the encounter.

I would suggest that the clinicians involved reflect on the the importance of basic consultation skills, as their actions negatively impacted on my experience as a patient.

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