"Not allowed family support during chemo treatment"

About: Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre

(as the patient),

I am currently receiving Chemo treatment for bone cancer. I visited the Beatson in Glasgow a few days ago.

As with my many previous treatments, I am always accompanied by my mum and sister providing me with the very much needed support

I got called at 2:30 by the chemo nurse and as usual I asked if my mum could join me when they were finished getting me ready for my treatment

To my astonishment, I was told family members were no longer allowed to accompany patients, because of health and safety reasons. The nurse said, quote “visitors can breathe in the chemo”.

My family was told to leave, and I had to watch my heartbroken mum walk away leaving her daughter to face this harrowing treatment, this tore me apart and it took all my power to be strong for her.

When I went into the chemo unit I was surprised to see there was a patient with their family member sitting by them. I wondered why this patient’s family member was put at risk “inhaling chemo”. I felt I this contradicted what the nurse initially said about the health and safety rule.

I was puzzled so I asked the nurse why this patient was able to have someone supporting them and I could not. The reply I got felt very cold and dismissive: "I cannot discuss this patient’s circumstance with you because of patient confidentiality".

While I completely understand the importance of patient confidentiality I am still very aware of patient centred care and I strongly feel I was treated appallingly. My blood pressure was taken and was understandably high, given that my emotions were through the roof. The nurse showed some concern about my blood pressure and said they would check it again in ten minutes, which they did not.

If my patient opinion is worth anything, I can assure you, it would be in my best interest and extremely good for my wellbeing if one of my family members could sit with me during chemo.

I want to see the hospital's health and safety policy, there is states my family cannot support me through my chemo. Given the option, my family would be happy to wear a mask, a gown and anything that is required for health and safety. They would also move out of the way whenever necessary, nothing would be a problem for them to be with me throughout my treatment.

This experience has really upset me today and as anyone with an inch of compassion would appreciate, family support can help you get through so much harrow. I really can do without this added stress, it upsets me to think of all the many patients who have to go through similar treatment to myself while having to face unhelpful staff, a little caring can go such a long way.

I have documented this experience and will decide what I plan to do next depending on the outcome of this posting.

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Response from Head of Administration, Acute Services Division, Greater Glasgow & Clyde NHS

Dear Tracy123,

Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback regarding your experience at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre (BWoSCC).

I would like to apologise for any concern and distress caused to you and your family when you attended for chemotherapy and your family was not allowed to wait with. I also fully appreciate your frustration when you went to have treatment and found other patients had family members with them. Without knowing the specifics of your case, I am unable to offer any reason why this would have happened, but I apologise for the distress this must have caused.

Normally, relatives are not permitted to stay during treatment in the Macmillan Day Case Unit, both to protect the privacy of other patients being treated in the area and to ensure the department does not become overcrowded. This policy has been in place since the BWoSCC opened in 2007. You should have been informed of this at your first treatment and I apologise that this was not made clear to you.

The Lead Nurse for the service has discussed this with the staff in the Unit to ensure patients are informed clearly at the start of the their treatment. If you wish to discuss further, please do not hesitate to contact me via email at craig.broadfoot@ggc.scot.nhs.uk and I can pick up any specifics relating to your feedback.

Kind regards,

Craig Broadfoot

Clinical Service Manager - Specialist Oncology Services"

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