"Wait for Breast Screening appointment"
Posted by HolidayGill (as ),
I discovered a change in my breast in the middle of August. Like a lot of women I tried to fob it off as nothing.
At the beginning of September I came out the shower and while drying myself felt a sort of 'thickening' to the breast. I asked my husband what he thought and he said there was a definite change. For 2 days I did nothing then eventually went to get my mum to check it as she had experience of breast cancer as she worked in this area locally. She examined me and told me to phone and get an appointment to see my GP.
Well, like every surgery, I had to phone at precisely 8am to try and get an emergency appointment. On this occasion I was successful.
I saw a young locum doctor who was excellent. The doctor examined me and agreed that there was changes and I would be referred to the Breast Screening Clinic at Crosshouse Hospital.
I was informed that an appointment should be through within 4 weeks. I was also offered antibiotics in case it was an infection. This I declined as I otherwise felt well in myself.
Three weeks passed and there was still no appointment through. I then phoned my GP surgery again and asked them if the referral letter had been sent. They told me it had been sent to Crosshouse on in early September and gave me a number to phone at Crosshouse Hospital. This I did, to be told by the girl at appointments at Crosshouse Hospital, that it would be probably another 12 weeks before an appointment came through. This was explained as being due to the lack of Consultants available.
Fortunately I am not one of those people who unduly worry about things but as you can imagine being told you needed to wait 4 weeks for an appointment to then being told a further 12 weeks for something which could in fact be life threatening, did make me panic.
As a new campaign had recently been launched, starring Elaine C Smith, regarding different aspects of breast cancer (not just finding a lump) I felt strongly enough to phone NHS Inform. The nurse at NHS Inform could not have been kinder. The nurse agreed that this was an unacceptable waiting time for anyone and informed me to phone my own GP Surgery and ask to speak to the Advice Doctor. I promptly did this to be told to phone back at 10am or 3pm as these were the times the Advice Doctor would be able to speak to me.
I phoned at 10am and the Advice Doctor was not in the least bit pleasant....and in fact made me feel as if I was making the whole story up. The Advice Doctor explained that the referral letter that the locum had issued did not say that they thought I had breast cancer but that it said it could be a 'benign' cyst or a hormonal changes. How on earth can a doctor diagnose whether any changes are cancerous or not...surely that is up to the Consultant once you have had a mammogram?
I put this point across to the Advice Doctor, whose attitude was terrible and who then proceeded to tell me that I would need to make yet another appointment with another doctor to get examined again before my referral would be classed as urgent.
I questioned the Advice Doctor and asked why the word of the first Doctor was not good enough and was more or less told that I would need to make another appointment. On a plus point I was put through to appointments who gave me an emergency appointment for that day.
As you can imagine, after the conversation with the Advice Doctor, I was quite upset so telephoned my mum to come to the Doctors with me. I felt like a child not a 43 year old, working mother of two children. My mum came into see the Doctor with me and I must admit this was a far more acceptable situation. The Doctor I saw was very apologetic and caring and explained it was the way the referral letter was written...non urgent.
My point here is that, following the campaign, all changes in breasts should be classed as urgent it should not be left up to the individual doctor to decide just by examining the person.
The Doctor then asked to examine me again. I agreed but made it clear that I felt as though they did not believe me or the first doctor who had examined me. It took less than 5 seconds for the doctor to feel where the 'thickening' was. The doctor agreed that it should be seen as a matter or urgency and would send an urgent referral letter to the hospital. I was given no indication of time factor for this though.
I left the doctors and went outside and burst out crying....and believe me this is not usual for me. I was crying out of sheer frustration of what I had to go through for the doctor to take me seriously. This should not happen. I fear for women who are not as strong as myself or who do not have family or friends round about them who can speak up for them. If the Scottish Government are launching a campaign then they should ensure that all NHS Boards and GP Practices are aware of it and onside with the programme.
They should also ensure that there is enough staff, nurses, radiographers, Consultants etc to provide a fast service.
This only happened 2 days ago so I am still waiting for an appointment at the Breast Screening Clinic at Crosshouse Hospital, hopefully it will be through soon and all will be well.