"It gave me an insight into a very stretched NHS"

About: NHS 111 Northern General Hospital / General medicine Northern General Hospital / General surgery

(as the patient),

I started having stomach cramps on the Friday evening. By 10pm these has become a lot more severe and I started vomiting. The cramps didn’t ease, and I was sick some more throughout the night. I called 111 at 2am and received a call back from a doctor at 2: 30am. I was offered an appointment at the GP unit at the Northern General Hospital but agreed to wait to see if I improved.

At 4am the pain had moved to the right side of my abdomen and become sharper. I called 111 again and received a call back after a few minutes from a GP at the Northern General. I arranged an appointment for 5am and ordered a taxi to take me to the unit. The GP could not give a clear diagnosis and suggested a second opinion from the surgical assessment unit in the hospital. I was then transferred to this unit via A&E, where I waited for an hour or so, and put in a bed on the ward at around 7: 15.

There was very little investigation throughout the day on Saturday. I had a consultation that morning with a junior doctor who was not able to give any clear diagnosis. She took bloods and suggested I go for an X-Ray.

Nothing more happened for the rest of the day and I was given very little information about how long the investigations would take. My pain was easing somewhat I was very close to discharging myself.

I was transferred to a different ward that evening – Firth 8 and still not given any updates as to when the x-ray would be.

I was taken for the X-ray at around 8 am on the Sunday morning and the first time I saw the consultant was one the ward soon after that. He said there was certainly something going on in my abdomen, likely to be appendix although they weren’t sure. He suggested a CT scan and ordered nil by mouth.

The pain worsened again throughout the day and I was given morphine to relieve it. I was taken for the CT scan mid-afternoon.

I was given no further updates throughout the day although was given IV antibiotics in the night. At this point, they must have know they were planning to remove my appendix but I was not told. It would be have been nice to be informed.

I saw the consultant again on the Monday morning who informed me they wanted to take my appendix out. I met with the various doctors and filled in the various forms and was taken to the operating theatre mid-morning.

I came round early afternoon after what was a longer operation than expected and slept on and off for the rest of the day. I was only told some of the details of the operation because a theatre nurse who I knew came and saw me in the afternoon. I never had any feedback from the surgical team.

The only doctor I saw after that was someone doing the ward rounds on the Tuesday morning. He wasn’t able to tell me about my operation and seemed more interested in playing to his audience of 2nd year medical students who were following him round for the morning, than addressing me as a patient.

I left the hospital on the Tuesday evening with some pain killers and told there would be no further follow up.

A week later, I have been recovering well and do not envisage any complications.

On the whole it was not a great experience. The nursing staffs were very good and competent, although at times stretched. My main problem was the lack of communication and the time it took to carry out the investigations. I was basically in hospital for 2 whole days, getting worse before anything was done. And there were clearly times when I could have been updated on things but no one bothered.

It gave me an insight into a very stretched NHS and some real concerns about the future of the service.

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Response from Debbie Fletcher, Patient Partnership, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

We are extremely saddened to read your feedback. Thank you for taking the time to provide such a detailed account of your experience which sets out a number of areas where we seem to have fallen short in delivering the level of service we would expect. We would very much welcome the opportunity to provide you with answers and importantly reassure you that we take your comments seriously. If you should wish for your concerns to be investigated, please contact Patient Services Team on either 0114 2712400 or pst@sth.nhs.uk for appropriate assistance.

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