"Confrontational and belligerent"

About: Addenbrooke's Hospital

I was referred to A & E by my GP when I visited them after a wrist injury became suddenly more painful and less mobile. The GP wrote me a letter as they thought it might be helpful. I was met at the door by someone who I presume was a nurse - although they did not introduce themselves or explain their role. They read the letter from my GP and their first comment to me was " So you haven't been wearing your splint like you are supposed to". Not true - I had not said this and my GP had not written it. In fact I had been following to the letter the instructions given to me by the emergency doctor who saw me on the day of the injury. I felt this set the tone of this person's attitude towards me - implying that I was somehow to blame. I was told to see the nurse by the desk, which I did and tried to explain the situation although it was difficult as I was in pain and becoming upset by what was happening. This person - nurse? - then appeared again and interrupted by saying that I had already had the correct treatment and that my GP was wrong - that perhaps they "did not realise" that I had already had the correct treatment. All of this happened before anyone had examined my injury or asked me about my pain. In fact I was in a lot of pain - much more than the first time I visited, when I was treated very well. I stayed, asked for pain relief, and eventually saw a doctor who examined me briefly but told me to wait until my appointment with the fracture clinic. Because of various anxiety issues I find it hard to ask for help with anything and difficult to trust doctors. I find it completely unacceptable that a member of staff who has never met me or examined my injury should try to undermine my trust in my GP by saying that they are wrong, and by speaking in such a confrontational tone. I'm sure that medical professionals can have disagreements among themselves but I think it is highly unprofessional to vent it to the patient or use the patient as a go-between. I have never complained before, but I was very upset by this incident, I found it extremely distressing and it has taken me a long time to calm down. If I ever have to return again - I hope not - but if I ever do I do not feel at all confident that I would be listened to or taken seriously. I feel that I was blamed and treated as a timewaster, at a moment when I was vulnerable and in pain.

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Response from Nicola Hallows, Complaints and PALS Manager, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your experience in the Emergency Department at Addenbrooke's Hospital. I am very sorry to learn that you were upset by your experience and dissatisfied with your treatment. If you would like us to look into the circumstances and respond to you personally, please do not hesitate to contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service on 01223 216756 or email pals@addenbrookes.nhs.uk.

Complaints and PALS Manager

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful