This is Care Opinion [siteRegion]. Did you want Care Opinion [usersRegionBasedOnIP]?

"Fertility treatment as a private patient"

About: Glasgow Royal Infirmary / Assisted Conception Services

(as a service user),

I was a private patient in my 40s with the ACS from 2017 to 2021. I met dedicated staff at the ACS who went out of their way to acknowledge me, to make me smile, who made me feel very much like an individual person and not a number. I also felt seriously affected by many system and communication errors over these 4 years, which at best caused me emotional distress and at worst, delayed my treatment.

There was poor communication within the team for example in an admin problem resulting in issues with transporting donor sperm from a clinic in London to the ACS; delay. There was also an issue with signing up for fertility treatment as a woman who was separated but not yet divorced; delay. I overcame these hurdles with perseverance and I believe they have better systems in place now. In direct contrast, the private clinic I used in London to have my first child were slick with all this. Forms and procedures in place were seamless. I know this is a private service in an NHS system but surely it is possible. Then came various issues with not giving me the right medication, or not giving me enough medication to last me until my next appointment - for which I had to return, stressed, at a later date to collect more.

One year I was delayed by months by my smear not being up to date and this not being picked up at my appointment. If it is the patient who should keep track of what things need to be in date and when, then this should be made explicit at the start, to allow a patient to create their own admin systems and reminders. At my appointment on in September 2020, they made the worst mistake. I was told to start medication that I shouldn’t have started - which I didn’t find out until two days later, when a member of staff called and said I wasn’t supposed to start that injecting treatment yet. I was obviously terrified and they told me they would go and check with a medic. I was called back an hour later to say they had checked with the Consultant and my whole treatment cycle was to be stopped. The next sentence was that there would be a cost implication. I was devastated, in floods of tears and had so many questions. I wanted to have a clear explanation as to what the drugs did that meant I couldn’t continue - and what effect they might have if any, on my body going forward. The person calling wasn’t qualified to give me this information. This was the level of detail only the consultant who made the decision could give. I asked to speak to the consultant and I really had to push for this. I was told that it had been very hard to get hold of them the first time, that there wasn’t a guarantee that I'd be able to speak to them, that there wasn’t anyone else in the department I could speak to and that it might not be possible to call me back the same day. I still insisted. This is an important level of detail; if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to continue my treatment: when I got a call back, in this conversation, they let me know that apparently there *was* in fact an option to continue my cycle.

I feel this whole team would benefit from advanced communication training. The rollercoaster of emotions this puts you through isn’t acceptable. I felt that they took a politician's stance of not wanting to say they made a mistake. In fact it was put to me that I had misunderstood. Had someone apologised, told me that it was awful and that staff had somehow got the wrong end of the stick and mistakenly told me to start, I very much doubt I would have felt the need to write this account.

Human beings need honesty, transparency, and apology to repair a rupture in a therapeutic relationship. I have expert professional knowledge of this. Most reasonable humans will accept this, with an assurance that steps have been taken to prevent the mistake happening again - and would need nothing further. The person who told me to start had clearly told me that I would be on all four treatments - tablets, nasal spray, pessary and injections. I asked twice to make sure. We both acknowledged what a lot this was but I said I was determined and ready. I was told they were throwing everything at me to help me get pregnant. I believe that a mistake was made and either said differently later, or was perhaps advised to cover up the mistake. I had emailed when I couldn’t get through by phone because I couldn’t see any syringes in the bag I had taken to work to begin injecting. I was told that the bags should've been made up with syringes and needles in them, and asked if I could come in and pick them up. It was never mentioned that I shouldn't be taking the injections yet and that I'd be contacted when I was to start, which I believe shows that they mistakenly thought I should have been jagging. I eventually was able to have all the rest of my treatment with another consultant, one with whom I felt safe, acknowledged and reassured. Who was clear, helpful and kind. This made all the difference and I wish it had been with this consultant all along. I hope this account helps others to make an informed choice about using the ACS at the GRI for private treatment.

Responses

Response from Isabel Traynor, Lead Nurse, Gynaecology/Assisted Conception Services, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde 2 weeks ago
Isabel Traynor
Lead Nurse, Gynaecology/Assisted Conception Services,
NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde
Submitted on 08/10/2021 at 12:26
Published on Care Opinion at 13:12


Dear fertilityserviceuser

I am very sorry to hear you experienced multiple issues with communication and systems during treatment at the self funded Glasgow Royal Fertility Centre. Please be assured that I have sent on your care opinion post to the Glasgow University based service.

I would be grateful if you could send your details to: grfc@glasgow.ac.uk who will be able to respond directly to you.

Best wishes

Isabel Traynor

Lead Nurse, Gynaecology

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful
Opinions
Next Response j
Previous Response k