"Colonoscopy/flexible sigmoidoscopy"

About: East Surrey Hospital / General surgery

(as the patient),

I visited my GP with symptoms they felt could indicate bowel cancer and I was referred for a flexible sigmoidoscopy. When I got to the hospital, the appointment was on time but the receptionist was very brusque I felt. The nurse who took me to a changing room didn't introduce themselves and when I asked questions about the procedure, they told me the doctor would answer them.

I'm not even sure I ever saw a doctor and my questions weren't answered. The only member of staff in the examination room who actually introduced themselves was the nurse who carried out the procedure. Unfortunately, as they choose to do this from behind me when I was in a bare backed hospital gown, already lying on my left side on the bed, I'm not sure why they bothered introducing themselves.

I did not feel that my dignity was respected at that point, but things did improve in the recovery room. The nurse responsible for my care introduced themselves and other staff were pleasant and friendly and said hello. My husband was waiting in the unit waiting area to collect me. When the phone rang through the staff member said loudly 'Oh God' in an aggrieved tone and then spoke rudely to my husband as they told him where to go. He had distinct impression she couldn't wait to get out of the building.

The recovery ward nurse was very thorough in going through the report with my husband present so we know what had been found, what to expect in reaction to the treatment and what to do if anything went wrong. She also made sure that I understood what I should do next.

Overall though the lack of basic courtesy I felt was appalling. The whole reason for going for a colonoscopy is frightening because it means I might have bowel cancer. I knew what was going to happen and had read the booklet thoroughly. If I had been an older person, confused or scared witless by what was happening, that would have been a really frightening and disorientating experience.

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Response from Barbara Bray, Chief of Surgery, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

I was very sorry to read your story so have asked the Senior Nurse for Endoscopy to reply to you -

Dear Crawley resident

Thank you for taking the time to give us feedback on your experience in Endoscopy at East Surrey Hospital. I was shocked and disappointed as this is not the usual level of care our patients experience.

I have held a meeting with the nursing staff and have reiterated the importance of privacy and dignity at all stages through the department. I have also reminded staff that they must introduce themselves to their patients.

You are right that this is a difficult, frightening time for all our patients and their relatives. I will pass on your comments to the reception staff to ensure that others do not have the same experience as you and your husband.

Best wishes

Rosemary Goodchild

Senior Endoscopy Sister

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