"The Edinburgh Western General Saved My Life"

About: Western General Hospital (Edinburgh)

(as the patient),

In Sep last year I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I had no symptoms whatsoever and it was the diligence of my local GP in Strathaven who spotted a slightly raised Prostate Specific-Antigen (PSA) level during some routine testing. After a number of consultations with the specialists, I opted for radical removal of the prostate by keyhole surgery. At only 49 years old combined with the grading of the cancer, made this the best option for me. This could not be done in my local health authority area and I was referred to the Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital under the care on Urology Specialist Consultant, Dr Alan McNeill, who with his wife and a group of like-minded people helped establish Prostate Scotland. For anyone going through this process it is extremely worrying for the whole family and you have to face the prospect that at one end of the scale you may die from the disease or not recover from the operation and at the other end, be left incontinent and suffer erectile dysfunction. It should be said that in the most cases the treatments available produce a favourable outcome. Edinburgh’s Western General staff seem to be tuned in to the worry and stress that the patient is going through, and every member of the team, from the receptionist booking me in for my pre-surgery assessment to the surgeon carrying out the operation, seemed to be focused on making this whole process as medically successful as possible and at the same time minimising the worry and addressing the concerns raised by me and my family. I have had a lot of experience watching the care that patients have received in other hospitals, but I have never seen such hard working and dedicated staff as I experienced in ward 57. I think it was the team work between the staff that made the biggest difference. I was in a ward with much older patients generally and it was encouraging seeing that a special effort was being made to ensure that everyone was as comfortable and pain free as possible, even if they were infirm and couldn’t be as vocal as others. (thankfully now, I’ll be old one day). I recovered from the operation with one or two minor complications resulting in slower progress than had been hoped. These concerns were addressed immediately and the day after the operation I received 3 visits from the Surgeon, 2 from the anaesthetist and 1 from the surgery nurse, all carefully assessing me in case further surgery was required. (fortunately It wasn't). Following my release a few days later I was then put in the care of the Nurse Lead Urology department for treatment as an outpatient. I had to keep a catheter in for 4 weeks and soon found out that they too, were one of the most professional and caring teams of nurses and specialists that I have ever seen. I was astonished at level of effort put in by all the staff, who did not seem to have any limits, and would go to any length to ensure the patient received the best treatment possible. I have just had my 6 week post operation appointment with the Consultant Surgeon Dr Alan McNeill who confirmed that the surgery has been a success and although I will continue to be monitored at intervals, I no longer have the cancer. For anyone going through this agonising process or watching a loved one going through it, please be assured that under the team led by Dr Alan McNeill at Edinburgh’s Western General, they will receive the very best care and treatment possible, by people who seem to care more about their patients than themselves. I cannot thank the whole team enough for giving me my life back, on behalf of my wife, her husband back and my two teenage daughters, their dad.
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