"Breaches of confidentiality, rude staff"

About: Walk-in Centre

(as the patient),

I attended the walk-in centre with a rash. There was a couple of hours' wait, but that was ok because I wasn't in any way urgent.

What disturbed me, though, was how much I learned about the other patients' conditions purely by sitting in the waiting room. From a conversation between the reception staff, I gleaned that of all the nurses working, only one was able to prescribe. This meant that the other nurses working kept having to check things with her, or request prescriptions. What was concerning was that these conversations happened behind the reception desk, which was perfectly audible to those of us sitting near it, and the conversations even happened in the waiting room itself.

The worst situation was one where a nurse left her consulting room and showed a pregnancy test to a colleague, saying, "This is negative, isn't it?". The other nurse said that yes, it was, and asked when the other's patient's last period was. The nurse told her, and advised her to tell the patient to come back if her period still did not start in another month. I was horrified. When that patient came out of the consulting room, I would know that she was here because of a pregnancy scare.

Some girls sitting behind me clearly also heard this interaction, because I heard one say, "We shouldn't have heard that, should we?" and her friend agreed. Then the patient came out of the consulting room and I deliberately did not look, because I was aware I knew information I had no right to know. Then, the full realisation of the breach of confidentiality became clear when I realised that the girls sitting behind me were there with the one who had just had the negative pregnancy test.

She said to them, "It was negative", and her friends said, "We know", and explained to her what had happened. I do not know whether they made a complaint about this, but I wish I had done. It seems too late now.

When I finally got called in to see the nurse, she was very brusque. She examined my rash and, before prescribing antibiotics, asked if I was taking any other medication. I said I was, and that there were quite a few items. I was told to hurry up as there was a waiting room full of people!

I didn't say, "I know - until 45 seconds ago I was one of them", but it was what I felt.

Moving the walk-in centre to the private GP practise was supposed to ensure a smooth, professional service. I was disgusted at how the place was run. I went there because it was convenient, but I will never go there again.

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