"Lack of empathy"

About: Royal United Hospital / Paediatrics

(as a parent/guardian),

My daughter was born with a respiratory condition and from the first week of life was having difficulties with feeding. Ultimately, she was put on an NG tube under the diagnosis of reflux but no tests done on her after 3 months of NG tube feeding and no improvements seen.

After these months of NG tube feeding, my daughter was in fact deteriorating (vomiting for 3 weeks in every feed, no inclination to feed orally, continuous admission to hospital for fear of dehydration). Dad and I felt very anxious and requested for a barium swallow test that was quickly rejected by the doctor. We decided to take her to a private gastro who recommended in fact to do the barium swallow test to ensure there were no other congenital issues, such as malrotation or hiatus hernia.

After waiting for 2 weeks without hearing about the X-ray and being really concerned about our daughter's condition, we requested urgently for an appointment to discuss our concerns, and it was kindly organised it for the following day.

I have to note that throughout the whole entire relationship this doctor has appeared to consider both dad and I a nuisance to the point told my husband they had sicker children to look after and couldn't come to see my daughter in one of the hospital admissions. Yet, this doctor neither let other doctors to come and talk to us either.

However, on the day of the appointment things even got worse.. This doctor seemed really upset and annoyed with us, and invited us into the room with a less than professional "come in, you". The lack of empathy from this doctor reached levels that are in our view unprofessional. With answers such as:

If you want to know what is the plan to remove your daughter from the NG tube, that is tough, tough, tough. To what we responded, apologies, but we need to know... to what the doctor's response was, children have colds, diarrhoea, and you cant simply have a plan etc... - Our response was, we still need a plan and we can change it if our daughter does get ill.

The most hurtful comment said on that room was that the doctor was really concerned about how we were dealing with this situation, as there are children having fits every single day and parents go on to have a normal life, whereas we considered our daughter a nightmare. Our response was, our daughter is the most precious person we have in our life, the situation is the nightmare, not our daughter. We appreciate other parents may deal with the situation differently, but we cant help but worry about our daughter simply because she is less sick than other children - This comment is completely unprofessional, unfair, lacking empathy in so many levels. A dietician was also present on the room.

This professional even asked for a safeguarding nurse to talk to us as it feels we cant cope with the anxiety... well, we can cope looking after our daughter perfectly well, but can not cope with the anxiety from not knowing what is wrong with her medically and having additional tests on her refused. Also, this doctors attitude is making us, if anything more frustrated and anxious! ! !

Due to our relationship, we had to ask for a referral to a paediatrician in other city, which is inconvenient for us. And of course and feel really upset about the lack of care, empathy and support we have had from this doctor and would like an apology at least for the hurtful comments

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Response from Royal United Hospital

We are sorry to hear of the distress you have suffered following your daughter’s treatment at the RUH, and your dissatisfaction with how your subsequent complaint was handled. We appreciate that having a poorly child is an incredibly stressful experience for any parent. We would like to reiterate that our previous offer to meet with you in person still stands. If you should wish to arrange such a meeting, please contact the Women and Children’s Division on 01225 825543 or 01225 826237 and ask to speak to the Women and Children’s Division PA who will help arrange a suitable time. **** It’s your hospital. Have your say. Become a member of the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust today: www.ruh.nhs.uk/membership ****

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