"Made to feel like a fraud, but actually sent home with a serious concern and considerable pain"

About: East Surrey Hospital / Gynaecology

(as the patient),

I developed lower abdominal pain during the course of a day off at home, and by 10pm that night, the pain was so severe that I was in tears and could hardly breathe.

My husband called NHS Direct who suggested that he take me to the East Surrey A&E where we were seen to quite quickly. The staff were attentive and asked many questions, but my husband and I were concerned that they became fixated on the fact that I mentioned I had fibroids and that these had caused me some pain several years before, when they were diagnosed.

By this stage, I was on pain killers and my pain had subsided, but I was still very uncomfortable. I was eventually seen by a gynaecologist in the early hours of the morning and had various tests on my blood and urine. I was admitted into the hospital and given regular pain relief.

The next morning I was sent for a scan, during which my reproductive organs were looked over and my fibroids measured. I was told that my reproductive organs were healthy and that my fibroids were not large enough to have caused the severe pain I had experienced, nor the utter discomfort I was still in. No further tests were carried out, and no others were recommended, so the discharging nurse/doctor told me that the hospital could find nothing wrong with me, and even had the audacity to suggest that I may have a severe case of trapped wind!

I am an educated woman, so I know the difference between severe lower abdominal cramps and trapped wind, but I was made to feel like I had wasted everyone's time and left the hospital feeling like a complete fraud. On discharge however, I was given an outpatient's return date, which I inwardly questioned as I wondered what the point would be in coming back to the hospital that could not or would not find out what was wrong with me.

For several days after my 'cramp attack' I was still feeling like I had been kicked by a donkey so decided to go and see my GP, who said that such cramps would normally be a "warning sign" for something. Luckily, I have private health cover at work and was referred to a private hospital which undertook further (but more invasive) tests, and endometriosis was discovered. This has been lasered off and I am now at home recovering, but I cannot help wondering why on earth this was not picked up by my local NHS hospital. Money?

Thankfully, endometriosis is not a very serious condition if caught early, so I consider myself terribly lucky but I was, quite frankly, horrified that I was left in a position of saving to seek private assistance when I already pay for healthcare through my taxes. What if I did not have the luxury of choice? The thought leaves me cold and with very little faith in the NHS.

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Responses

Response from Susan Aitkenhead, Chief Nurse, Executive Team, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Dear Missus C

I am very sorry to hear of your concerns. I would be happy to investigate this further on your behalf. If you would like to send me your details I can be contacted at susan.aitkenhead@sash.nhs.uk

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Susan Aitkenhead

Chief Nurse

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