"Bad experiences with the NHS"

About: NHS 24 NHS Lothian Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh at Little France / Accident & Emergency

(as the patient),

It's difficult to find a starting point, as my experience with NHS has been really negative for the last 3 years.

Almost 3 years ago, I started suffering of horrible headaches. NHS 24 sent me to hospital three times, where I would get painkillers. The first time I was seen by an incredibly loving doctor who really took care of me and alleviate the pain. The third time I went to hospital after hours in pain and vomiting I was told I might have migraines.

I went to check this with my GP, who gave me a treatment that worked only for a while. My migraines were being really disruptive and I ended up having a depression. When I went to my GP to check this, he told me to fill out a questionnaire and to come back. He didn't let me speak or explain what I was feeling, he heard "depression" and he produced the questionnaire straight away, then he told me he couldn't give any more time to deal with my migraine pain as I didn't have a double appointment and we had already gone through an issue.

When I came back, again, without listening to me, he checked the questionnaire and he said I had a severe depression, and that was the reason for my migraines. I said that I thought it was the other way around. I could easily be in pain 7 days in a row, which made me really sad. I have no family here, NHS was the only thing I could use to feel better. He insisted that my depression was causing the miraines and gave me antidepressants but they didn't work. Then he sent me home with no advice at all about any kind of counselling services or anything.

After another bad experience when dealing with swine flu (I was called liar by another doctor, but that's another story) I decided to change surgery. In the new surgery the doctor gave me a new treatment for the migraines, and I really appreciated that he had time to listen to the symptoms. After a while the treatment stopped working and I was given new pills to try. This new trial and error went on for more than a year, and after so many pills I ended up with a very delicate stomach.

One day last summer I had to go to the surgery again after a night with severe stomach pain, I thought it was an ulcer. NHS 24 advised me to have some Paracetamol, which didn't work. In the surgery they gave me Omeprazole, but the pain continued. It happened that the next day I went away to my home country, where I decided to see my doctor. She diagnosed a gall bladder full of stones after feeling my tummy, and after an ultrasound she saw that the gallbladder was nearly bursting. I had to have an emergency surgery. Now, I wonder what it would have happened if I had stayed in Edinburgh. I know I sound bitter but being given paracetamol and omeprazole after a night of horrible pain feels a bit like a joke, I felt really left alone by the health system, which was worsened after my first experience at the first surgery.

Going back to my migraines, after more than two years having them and being really disruptive, I asked to see a neurologist. At this time I was starting to lose my hair and to have memory loss. My doctor said, really lightly, that some tumours manifest that way and he made me touch the tip of my nose tith my index finger and some other exercices, after which he discarded the tumour (is that how a tumour is diagnosed? really?). He changed the medication again and refused for me to see a neurologist. Now, how would anyone feel at this stage? With two misdiagnoses already (the severe depression and the gall bladder) and the suggestion of a tumour, with almost daily pain and a lot of questions about migraines that hadn't improved in two years, what was I supposed to feel?

One night I had another really sever migraine crisis and I went to hospital again, where the doctor said they couldn't give me anything for the pain as I had reached the maximum amount of opiates I could have. The doctor was really kind but unfortunately she couldn't help me and suggested for me to talk (again) with my gp to change (again) the treatment. I was sent home vomiting and in pain.

When I tried to book an appointment with my GP, I was told that he had left the surgery. My new doctor is really caring and she understands how difficult is to deal with the pain almost daily. Her new tratment worked well and it's working so far, I'm really grateful.

When I thought my bad luck with NHS had reached an end, I started being bitten by some kind of insect. One of the bites made my left hand really swollen, to the point I couldn't make a fist.

In my surgery I can only get appointments if I ask one week in advance, the alternative are emergency appointments. My hand wasn't an emergency so far.

As NHS Scotland doesn't appear to offer any kind of walk-in centres, I found a walk-in pharmacy service (there is only one in Edinburgh) where I was given antibiotics and I was advised to see my doctor. My hand got better and since by the time I would see my doctor a week would have passed, I thought it would be a waste of time for my surgery.

I was bitten by an insect again a couple of days ago (on a Friday), this time in my arm. My arm was extremelly swollen and red, and the swelling was extended to my forearm and my elbow. It looked really bad and it was very painful. As I couldn't see my doctor until Monday, NHS 24 sent me to the Royal Infirmary. The doctor there wasn't very reassuring. Her words were "Oh, that's odd!" when she saw my arm. Then she asked me for the previous treatment and she resolved to give me more antibiotics. I asked if I could maybe get some strong antihistamins (I was having some that the pharmacy had given me without results) and she said there wasn't anything stronger. She then advised me to see my doctor, as she didn't know what could be happening to me.

I apologize if this looks biaised and emotional, but, really, is "Oh, that's odd" reassuring at all when you have a swollen arm and you are in pain? Is it normal that a doctor can't make a diagnosis? Or to be given antidepressants in what I feel is a random way? I used to be healthier than now. My migraines have improved a bit, but my stomach is really sensitive. I think this is due to the large amount of pills taken and I'm resistant to painkillers. Everytime I'm sick I get worried, as I can't see my doctor unless things are really bad, which translates into days of pain and discomfort. In case of an emergency, the hospital can't give me painkillers or a proper diagnosis. I was told lightly that some of my symptoms were caused by a tumour. I don't think this is a humane and caring approach.

I am realy grateful to my current doctor and to the lovely doctor who saw me when I got first sick, they make me feel that some people really care about patients. I can't say anything positive about anything else, especially regarding my gallbladder. It's really hard to feel helpless when you are sick or in pain, I feel there's nowhere for me to go.

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Response from NHS Lothian

I am sorry that you appear to have had poor experiences with the NHS.

I can't comment on your specific experiences as I don't know your name.

If you would like us to look into your experiences and give a full explanation and reply please contact us as below

Write - NHS Lothian Complaints Team. Waverley Gate, 2nd Floor, 2-4 Waterloo Place, EDINBURGH. EH1 3ET

Telephone - 0131 536 3360

E-mail - complaints.team@luht.scot.nhs.uk


NHS Lothian

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