"Appointment? Which Appointment? "

About: Derriford Hospital / Gastroenterology Derriford Hospital / General surgery

(as the patient),

I recently (June 08) was admitted to Derriford with severe acute pancreatitis, brought on by gallstones. It was quite traumatic and, while in hospital, I was treated by the staff there with the utmost care. I will not complain about their commitment to patient care, it was above reproach.

However, what was appalling was the sheer lack and disregard for communication. Not only did the staff refuse to discuss my situation with my husband, despite my having told them he was my next of kin, he was met with almost a robotic response of "data protection" (even when in this circumstance they were misquoting the act and in fact were obligated to talk to him directly as I designated him my primary contact). But the problem goes much, much deeper than lack of communication between patient and care giver, there is a systemic dysfunction within the communication systems that exist around the NHS for all concerned patients, doctors, nurses, admin and the outsourced companies who are supposedly delivering patient appointment services.

While in hospital, instructions given by physicians were not carried out, nurses’ notes didn't reach doctors, notes would go missing or were sent to surgeons not even involved in my case, test results lost or destroyed or mixed up. It was a fiasco. Ultimately, I discharged myself due to fear that I could no longer feel safe in their decision making, due to the lack of communication. Since doing so, I have since had test results not communicated to me, appointments and surgeries booked for me that I don't need with surgeons and other professionals who have no interest in my case. I have been put on waiting lists for surgeries that I don't need and almost every week I am calling to complain to the hospital or the appointment setting company that I am rapidly losing faith in their performance, to the point that I am reticent to even have my surgery now as I can't trust that they will get it right.

I've complained again and again to the appropriate bodies and it's only when I make a nuisance of myself that they in fact take me seriously and try to rectify the situation. Twice I've shown up for appointments to review what I thought were my MRI results. On one occasion they couldn't find my results, and the other the appointment was cancelled without notifying me that in fact it was cancelled. Incidentally, this was the appointment with a physician who doesn't even work in the field of gastro.

It has been incredibly stressful and in fact has made me worry unnecessarily over and over again. So much so that it has affected how I now view my own health care. I am seriously considering not having the surgery done at all, even though it could mean a recurrence and potentially my own death.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››