"Excellent - From Shop Floor to Top Floor"

About: Watford General Hospital

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Sunday 7 April 2012 was the day my life changed for ever!! I awoke with a "discomfort" in my chest which I explained away as indigestion - apparently most folk do in these circumstances. However, it got worse as the morning wore on so I rang 111 - 8 times between 1030 and 1230 and got nothing but their version of the "Your call is important to us but we are experiencing higher than usual call volumes...blah blah" excuse you get from the under- staffed call centres of other service providers!!

On referral to the NHS website I did the self diagnosis and convinced my self that:

a) I was having a heart attack!


b) I was rationalising it away as indigestion because the pain peaked and subsided rather than appearing like the "Hollywood Heart Attack" i.e. stabbing pain, grasp of the chest, surprised look, cry of "arrgeh", followed by pole-ax collapse!! I am fit; a keen cyclist and runner (I previously ran the London Marathon - ironically on behalf of the British Heart Foundation); I don't smoke or eat red meat or cheese. My diet consists mainly of steamed or grilled fish, chicken, tofu, and tempe plus salad and lots of fruit and veggies. I don't eat cake or biscuits but love chocolate and ice cream. I don't take salt BUT I am an inveterate worrier!!

c) I was reluctant / embarrassed to call 999 - just in case it was actually "trapped wind".

Nevertheless I followed the NHS advice and called 999 - I then had the most fantastic "patient experience". The care and professionalism exhibited by the NHS staff, at all levels, was outstanding - and especially those who assisted me through the critical A&E stage that Sunday afternoon.

From the woman who answered my initial 999 call and kept chatting to me and reassuring me, until the First Responder arrived; through to the team who performed the primary angioplasty; to my discharge from Watford General Hospital, the following Tuesday afternoon, with a new stent in place and a life-long prescription for statins, blood pressure medication and daily aspirin; the individual and collective performance of everyone, from the nursing assistant who offered me very tasty food to the senior cardio consultant who performed the procedure, and of course, the ward nurses and doctors who did the routine medical work, was truly wonderful.

My partner and I cannot praise or thank them enough. As a senior executive who has "benefited" from private health insurance and care, I say without reservation that the standards of individual sensitivity, care and EQ, as well as medical expertise, professionalism and efficiency, were far superior to anything I have previously "enjoyed" in either the US or, more recently, Singapore.

In these times of unhelpful meddling by a less than competent government and the awful PR from less well managed Trusts, it is important to remember that the vast majority of the NHS works faultlessly and seamlessly. Thousands of poorly people are admitted, treated and discharged - with scarcely a blip.

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from Watford General Hospital

Thank you for adding your kind words to our NHS Choices page. We're delighted to hear that your whole patient experience was just as you would have hoped, under the difficult circumstances. The staff value giving a personal, professional and caring service, and its great to hear our Cardiology team recognised in this way. It’s always good to hear positive feedback about our food too!

Our staff are working hard to provide this personalised service to all of our patients, so the team will be delighted to receive your gratitude.

If you would like to offer any formal feedback of your NHS 111 experience, please do get in touch with Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group. You can find ways to get in contact with them on their website: http://www.hertsvalleyscc.nhs.uk/

All the very best to you.

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