"Sadly this is what I had expected to happen"

About: St Thomas' Hospital / Accident and emergency

(as the patient),

It was 4am when I decided to call 111 because of excruciating pain down one side of my head face and neck that wouldn't go away.  I didn't want to be an unnecessary burden so I wanted to check with 111 before even thinking about going to A&E.  I was told I may have heat stroke and to go to A&E. I got a taxi there and when I arrived it was empty bar one other person. First impressions, not good as someone who had sensitivity to light and sound and terrible pain, the nurse at the front desk was blasting Anastasia "Outta love" over the speaker system.  I felt like I'd stepped into a Hollister store circa 2001.

Somewhat morose,  the same nurse asked me why I was there.  I explained I rang 111, I was expecting him to look for that record but instead he gave me a form to fill and a ticket number and told me to wait in the empty waiting area to register. The registration officer whose only purpose seemed to be to transcribe my handwritten form into a computer and print out a file, handed me my file and told me to go to another area.  I was seen really quickly by a lovely nurse who did my observations, most of which were fine apart from high blood pressure, she gave me some pain relief and I went back to the waiting area to be seen by a doctor.

Waited around an hour and the doctor appeared to speak to the nurses on the desk there.  What transpired was an open conversation about me and that I was a 111 call and how they said it was suspected heatstroke, then one nurse mocked " what at 5 in the morning, I dont think so" which I thought was a frightening demonstration of lack of knowledge as a nurse. The other nurse telling the doctor I definitely didn't have heatstroke. Yep, fine, lets move on from that.

Sadly this is what I had expected to happen, as the exact same thing happened to me 2 years ago at the same hospital where I was made to feel like a time wasting hypochondriac in earshot of a staff conversation about how I shouldn't be there.  I'd understand if I was in there every month but Ive only been to A&E 4 times in my entire life.

The doctor saw me, explained that it was a migraine, which I have never suffered from, and prescribed me an anti sickness and pain relief meds.   However, the pain relief meds had ran out, and I was told I would have to take the prescription to the hospital pharmacy when it was open.  Didnt really help me at the time as it was 6am, I hadn't taken my wallet with me and you cant take the prescription to a high street pharmacy.  So I am now at home, I still have head pain but I've had paracetamol and have slept most of the day. I'm feeling too lethargic to go back to the hospital pharmacy so I'm hoping I can keep the pain level low until it dissipates.

It would seem there is a massive disconnect between A&E staff and 111 response staff, maybe the NHS would do well to bridge this gap or overhaul the current process as it  puts patients in de humanizing and awkward situations. Sorry but I'm not interested in hearing you complain about your internal politics when I'm feeling like I want to bash my head into a wall because of the pain. Duty of care, people!


Response from St Thomas' Hospital

Thank you for your feedback. We are sorry to hear that some of the staff that you saw were rude and dismissive of your condition and that the 111 referral process did not work as it should have done. We would like to apologise for this.

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