"My experience was in turn distressing,..."

About: Royal Sussex County Hospital

What could be improved

I visited A & E at this hospital at around 11pm on 31/01/11 as I had been having chest pains for 5-7 days. I suffer from Agoraphobia and very rarely leave my home so a trip to the hospital was very daunting. I had been having these pains for 5-7 days before I even mentioned them to my wife. When we arrived at the hospital I informed the receptionist of my mental health condition and asked if I could sit in the reception area which was relatively quiet at the time.

I was called in by a young male doctor/nurse (wasn't told) who walked me through to the cubicles. As we were walking through the packed waiting room he was loudly asking me about my symptoms which I found extremely embarrassing. We were discussing my medical history in front of everyone. Even if I didn't suffer from agoraphobia I would have been mortified.

I was quickly given an ECG and my blood pressure was checked. I was then told that I would need to have blood taken to rule out a heart attack and to go to the main waiting area. On my way there I spoke to the lady who the doctor had identified as his boss and asked if it was ok to wait in the quieter reception area. She said that was fine.

So myself and my wife waited. I was getting increasingly agitated due to my condition and after around an hour my wife went to check whether someone would be coming to take my blood. She replied thus "What blood test? I didn't know we were taking bloods, we have no-one here to take bloods anyway, go and wait" She was unnecessarily rude to my wife and wouldn't even talk to her directly. At this point, I gave up and went home. I still have the chest pains and difficulty breathing but I don't think I could go through that experience again.

Anything else?

During my whole experience last night at the hospital I was made to feel like I shouldn't be there. My existing medical condition, despite me explaining it numerous times, was ignored by the medical staff. It took a lot for me to go to the hospital due to my agoraphobia and to be treated so unsympathetically when I got there has obviously not helped. I felt like a piece of meat who just had to be processed then shipped out. I feel that the discussion of my medical history in a packed waiting room was unprofessional and humiliating and the fact that I was forgotten about and then rebuked for reminding them I was there is just unacceptable.AgoraphobiaOvercrowdingHeart attackHypertensionMental health conditionsNoise levelsReceptionWaiting AreasBlood pressure checkDoctorsReception staffRudeBlood test

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Response from Royal Sussex County Hospital

We are extremely sorry that your experience of our accident and emergency department was so poor and we would encourage you to make a formal complaint so that we can investigate the events you describe properly. You can do this by contacting our complaints department on 01273 696955 (ask for the Complaints department) or email complaints@bsuh.nhs.uk. Your comments have been passed to the Matron responsible for this area.

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