"Poor Administration and Impatient Staff"

I was referred for an endoscopy due to chronic heartburn & acid reflux following an incident which I believe caused a hiatus hernia. I had never suffered with this prior to the event & Omeprazole made no difference. I phoned the endoscopy unit at the Freeman to ask how long I might need to wait & was told Cobalt had a shorter waiting list as they don't offer sedation. I therefore opted for Cobalt.

The appointment was made via telephone on Tuesday for yesterday (Friday). I was told a letter would be posted to me but 'if you don't receive it in time, just come in anyway'. The paperwork didn't arrive until today (Saturday) but I had done some research & knew I shouldn't eat 6 hours or drink 2 hours beforehand.

I phoned Cobalt on Friday morning to check the appointment was going ahead & to ask if there was anything I needed to do to prepare. I read online that I may not be able to wear contact lenses during the procedure & asked about this. They weren't able to answer this question over the phone.

When I arrived I spoke to the Administration Supervisor about the lack of prior information. They agreed I should have been told the fasting requirements over the phone & their failure to explain this would have resulted in me being unable to have the endoscopy that day, had I not done my own research. I was told this would be addressed via staff training.

Whilst I was speaking to the Supervisor I missed a call on my mobile & a message from someone at Cobalt calling to arrange a date for my endoscopy. I informed the Supervisor & they located a duplicate copy of my paperwork.

On reviewing the questionnaire I received in the post, I was not given part of it to complete myself. The consultant went through this with me & missed out a number of questions, eg background to symptoms, do I have nausea, vomiting or bloating. These all apply to me.

The consultant mentioned sedation & I relayed what I had been told by the Freeman. They said this was incorrect & they would contact them.

The consultant sprayed my throat & told me to lie down. Immediately the nurse who was standing at the top of my head, out of my sight, put the mouthpiece in front of my mouth. I asked them to stop as I wanted to be sure my throat was numb before they started the procedure. The Consultant bluntly said 'it will be numb' & I said it was important that I felt confident about this before they proceeded. Their priority was speeding things up as they were running late, not my welfare.

The procedure itself was uncomfortable but bearable.

Afterwards the consultant spoke to me very briefly. They found a hiatus hernia but was very dismissive of the impact it is having on my health and told me to read up on 'lifestyle changes' - I have never smoked, don't drink, not overweight, exercise daily & diet makes no difference. My GP said my symptoms are not caused by my lifestyle. The consultant then told me the pain is due to anxiety & I should try antidepressants.

Avoid Cobalt at all costs.

Story from NHS Choices

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