"Medical & nursing staff engage in HIV..."

About: Royal Lancaster Infirmary

I am living very successfully with HIV, but despite medical advances in treating the condition, Lancaster Royal Infirmary treat their HIV+ patients appallingly. It is so clear that many of their staff from A&E, gynecology, through to maternity, are utterly ignorant of the condition and consequently engage in discriminatory practices. Indeed, they afford patients such as myself with no dignity or respect. Examples of appalling discriminatory care: 1. Maternity Unit: during the birth of my child, the unit demonstrated little knowledge of HIV or best practice resulting in a horrific birth experience. What is more, the midwives often double-gloved just to enter my side room - extremely unnecessary and not least when the virus is not airborne and I also have an undetectable viral load. Refusing to help me when I was in difficulty as the ward midwives did not wish to enter my room, wearing gloves to touch/handle my newborn, refusing to allow me skin-to-skin contact with my newborn child. Overall, I was treated as though I was "dirty" and a "risk." 2. Now gynecology - upon disclosing my HIV status two doctors backed out of my bay and never returned. Oh and they subsequently lost my medical notes... never to be found!!! 3. A&E - during an admission with severe pain - consequence of a spinal injury - I again disclosed my HIV status - the immediate response was extremely discriminatory treatment. All members of staff wore disposal pinnies and gloves just to engage in conversation with me to conduct a primary assessment. When I asked the direct question why gloves and pinnies were required they all ignored my question. All staff stood as far away from me as humanly possible. Their attitude towards me was one of bigotry - not one member of staff spoke pleasantly to me - not one member of staff listened to me despite the fact that I was in severe pain - at no point was my spine examined - the cause of the pain. When I was transferred to a ward (briefly) even the trolley staff had acquired blue gloves and disposable pinnies!!! These two people glared at me as though I was a social outcast.

4. Member of the pharmacy team thought it highly appropriate to disclose my HIV status at the counter in front a long queue of people!!

Needless to say, I could go on and recount other experiences - but alas that should provide a general overview. Absolutely no excuse for this level of ignorance and bigotry around HIV within a NHS medical hospital. It is about time effective training and education was implemented for all staff.

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Response from Royal Lancaster Infirmary

We appreciate you taking the time to let us know about your experiences at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, and are very sorry that these fell well below the high standard that we expect. We would really like to look into this further so we can understand what happened and learn from it so that it doesn't happen for any of our other patients. To do this, we need some further information from you so would ask that you please contact our Patient Relations team on 01539 716621. We hope to hear from you soon. Thank you again.

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