"Diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer"

About: City Hospital campus

In January my 87 year old mother was referred by her GP to City breast centre. From then my mother's experience, in the circumstances, was generally superb. Her first (diagnostic) appointment occurred within a week. A week later Mum was seen by a consultant surgeon and a specialist cancer nurse.The care and compassion shown to my mother and their thoroughness in explaining the positive results for cancer, the options and choices with their associated demands and risks were all exemplary - of the finest order. (Thank you!). Much time was taken by all the professionals Mum met to allow her to absorb everything she had been told (supported by relevant and clear literature). She was also given direct telephone numbers for two specialist nurses (cancer and surgical) whom she was encouraged to contact at any time. In fact, she did and, again, her experience was very informative and confidence-giving. Mum was offered choices of for her elective surgery, the soonest 2 weeks from her results appointment, just 4 weeks from seeing her GP. We cannot describe how such a rapid and professional response to Mum's plight helped her and her entire (extensive) family face the anguish. The admissions documentation was clear and helpful. The arrangements on admission via the 'elective surgery lounge' were also very friendly, efficient and compassionate with everyone taking care to treat Mum as an individual person with humour and respect. Again, we must observe how this process and the caring, personal approach so helps the patient and family deal with the day's challenge. At this point we have some negative points to make but, we hope, in a constructive manner. Mum was scheduled 3rd for surgery and advised this meant she would be in theatre around 1pm (having starved from the previous evening, last drink at 6am on the day and arriving at the ESL at 7.15am). Mum was given a drink at 8.30. By 1pm nothing had happened, the ward sister had been called to a meeting and other staff had gone for lunch. By 13.45 we had to ask for guidance and were told within 2 hours (thus preventing Mum having a drink). Mum was later moved to a ward to wait the theatre call (4.30). At no time between 11.30 and 16.00 did any member of staff proactively inform us of events and likely delays; we had to ask. A hungry, dehydrated 87 yearly lady was increasingly distressed and fearful of cancellation. We understand that clinical judgment must decide the patients' scheduling and that unforeseen complications and delays may happen. This reinforces our view that frail, elderly patients should be high on the prioritising. Secondly, ignorance of events creates great uncertainty, anxiety and is very corrosive. People are far better at dealing with information even if it is disappointing. The ward staff were cheerful, helpful and kind without exception; thank you all. One last: tinned fruit on the menu? Tinned? For three consececutive dinners? Nutrition? Overall: Magnificent, all of you. Thank you.

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Response from Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

Thank you for sharing such detailed feedback – both the good and the not so good. Overall it sounds like you and your mum had a great experience with compassionate care and informative staff – this reflects the values and standards we expect at our hospitals. We welcome constructive feedback so that we can do a better job for patients in future.

It is concerning to hear about delays to your mum’s treatment which caused much unnecessary distress and anxiety. We also note your observations about the food, which we have passed on to relevant colleagues. We understand the importance of keeping patients, friends and families informed about the next steps in their treatment and are sorry we feel short on this occasion. We have shared your concerns (and the positive comments) with the team so that they can pass on to staff and make improvements. We hope your mum is now recovering well and wish you both all the best.

Response from Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

We are sorry to hear you were unhappy with the tinned fruit option, however, we do always have at least three other choices available. These typically include: fresh fruit; yoghurt; ice cream; and a dessert option, for example, trifle or scone with cream and jam. We try to offer patients a varied selection, with at least one healthy option. We apologise if this was not immediately clear to you or your mum during her recent stay with us.