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"Concerns for my health"

About: Aberdeen Royal Infirmary / Dermatology (Skin Conditions) General Practices in Grampian

(as the patient),

I am deeply concerned about the slowness of attention by ARI to growths on my face, and as a consequence to the implications for my future health and wellbeing. 

At the beginning of 2018 I consulted a GP in Mintlaw Surgery, about a small growth under my left eye which had been itchy, and had progressed to a becoming a small dark weeping sore which wouldn’t heal.  The doctor, whom I saw, mentioned that I would need to come back at some point when they would perform a ‘punch biopsy’, and that therefore they would get the surgery staff to eventually  ‘phone me up, to arrange an appointment. 

The call from the surgery never came, and so a month later I wrote a letter asking why I had never been called in (I thought a letter would be better since I believed that the doctor I saw was a dermatology specialist who had come out from Aberdeen.   I eventually found out that was not the case; the doctor was actually part of the Mintlaw Group practice).  Given my letter, I had my ‘punch biopsy’ done at Mintlaw Surgery in February 2018, and the sample sent away.  The test done on the biopsy sample proved that I had a Basal carcinoma (or so I was told).   I was therefore told by the Mintlaw GP that I would be called in to ARI to see a dermatology specialist.  

In the interim period, it turned out that my GP must have removed the ‘active’ part of the carcinoma with the punch biopsy sample, because the affected area on my cheek healed up, although I still occasionally feel a slight itchiness in the general area of where the growth was.  In my mind therefore, I felt a ‘bit of a fraud’ to be waiting to see a specialist in Aberdeen when there didn’t, to my eye, now appear to be any evidence of anything having been there.  Nevetheless, I was advised that I should still go to the expected appointment with the ARI Dermatology Department. 

I had almost forgotten about being called to see somebody in the ARI Dermatolgy Department, when about a year later I received notification to attend.  The specialist who examined me mentioned that I would need further attention to the area where the carcinoma had been evident, and that I would receive an appointment to attend ARI for treatment.  That was about ten months ago, and I still have had no call.  In the meantime, a black headed growth has appeared next to my left ear with a pinkish tinge to it’s edges, with a secondary smaller growth next to it seemingly about to develop into something bigger.

I have since left the Mintlaw area and am now with the Central Buchan Practice.  I saw a GP there about two weeks ago.  She looked at the growth next to my ear (the secondary one wasn’t evident then), and immediately ‘phoned the Dermatology Department of ARI, when she spoke to somebody there, describing how the growth next to my ear looked.   She also asked why I had never been called in for treatment to the original problem I had, and was told that the long delay was due to staff shortages, but that I would definitely be called in.   I’m grateful to the Central Buchan GP for getting straight on to the ARI Dermatology Department, however, my past experience tells me that I am in for a long long wait again, if I ever get called.  This perception of mine is why I’ve decided to write to you.

I realise that there must be many other people waiting in a similar situation to myself waiting to be attended to by the NHS, through no fault of the medical staff of the ARI.  However, I feel that its only but right that politicians are made acutely aware of how serious the situation appears to be, and so I will be speaking about my particular experience to a MSP.  Hopefully this will mean a chance to highlight the poor state of affairs in NHS Grampian.

I would be extremely grateful if there could be some movement in getting my situation regarding facial growths looked at and seen to.  Thank you.

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Response from Maxine Callow, Deputy Service Manager, Medicine 4 (Medicine and Unscheduled Care Division), NHS Grampian 2 years ago
We have made a change
Maxine Callow
Deputy Service Manager, Medicine 4 (Medicine and Unscheduled Care Division),
NHS Grampian
Submitted on 29/11/2019 at 15:46
Published on Care Opinion at 15:49

Dear Grussw63,

Thank you for taking the time to let us know about the issues you are having, I am so sorry it has taken so long. Please could you get in touch with me either by email on or by tele. 01224 559578 with your name and date of birth so I can investigate and help you get an appointment for a biopsy.and investigation of the new lesion. I am pleased to let you know that whilst we had staff shortages and had struggled to recruit we are back to a full complement of consultants from September this year and waiting times are reducing rapidly. I am really sorry you have had a long wait. When I speak to you I will check the address we have for you on record, if you have recently moved we may not have up to date contact details.

Thank you again for getting in touch.

Kind Regards

Maxine Callow

Deputy Service Manager Medicine 4

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Update posted by grussw63 (the patient)

I'm very pleased that I have had a response to my concern about my health. In my opinion, patient care is very much helped if the patient is kept informed about what is happening about his or her condition at regular intervals. It helps allay fears, or prepares the person for whatever might possibly have to happen. I firmly believe that much anguish can be avoided, and, as a consequence will lead to less criticism of the current health service, if the patient is treated as somebody of flesh and blood, rather than a statistic in a filing cabinet or on the database of a computer system. Thank you very much for getting in touch.

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