"Assistants to the Gynecologists"

About: Ninewells Hospital / Gynaecology

(as the patient),

I was seen by an extremely caring, understanding and attentive female Gynecologist who after asking the relevant questions asked me if it was OK for her to carry out a physical examination. As I had no objection, she informed me that she would call upon one of the assistants and that I could undress from the waist down in the enclosed area behind the curtain in the consulting room.

Once I was ready a member of staff wandered into the enclosed area. Never said hello let alone had the courtesy to say what she was there for. I was struggling with the pillow and a rather odd elasticated sheet which I had no idea if it was to go over the couch or whether it was to cover my lower parts. I asked her what the "curled up cloth" was for and she shrugged her shoulders. It was apparent that the Gynecologist had not been advised by this member of staff that I was ready, as she stood there picking her finger nails and then abruptly left the enclosure in an impatient demeanour.

The Gynecologist came into the enclosure, explained the process of the examination and proceeded to carry out the examination. In the meantime the female stood silent behind the Gynecologist. Once the examination was concluded and the findings were explained to me the Gynecologist stated that I could get dressed again and once ready, to come out for her to explain the outcome of the whole examination and assessment. As I was struggling to get up from the couch due to severe pain in my pelvis, the assistant had no courtesy to ask if I needed a hand. She simply clutched a handful of tissues and asked me to clean the gel off my skin and went out of the enclosure.

I eventually managed to sat up, cleaned the gel and got dressed. In the meantime I also folded and cleared the stained paper that was over the couch but could not see where to dispose of it. The assistant had vanished, presumably leaving room and hopefully not expecting the Gynecologist to dispose of the dirty paper pad I had rolled into a ball.

In future, Ninewells Hospital can you please train these assistants in basic hygiene and personal appearance when working in the hospital. Thereafter, please train them to be polite to patients and professionals and request that they present themselves in a professional manner.

From my perspective, as the patient, I felt that this assistant was neither polite nor caring in her approach. Her unkempt appearance, lack of manners and approach to the job was a disappointing (thankfully only short lived) experience, one that Ninewells Hospital needs to address.

As for the Gynecologist, I think she was the most thorough, focused, clear, empathetic, and gentle professional anyone one can ever wish for.

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Response from Alison Moss, Feedback Manager, NHS Tayside

Thank you for your kind comments regarding the Gynaecologist you saw when you recently attended Ninewells Hospital. I will certainly ensure your appreciation is conveyed to her.

I am, however, extremely sorry that you did not find the assistant to be as helpful or courteous. This is not the behaviour or standard of care we would expect from our staff.

We would very much appreciate the opportunity to look into this matter in more detail and would be grateful if you contact Alison Moss, Complaints and Feedback Team Lead on 0800 027 5507 (freephone) or via email to feedback.tayside@nhs.net. If you would prefer not to do so, please be assured that your feedback will be shared with staff for improvement.

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience on Patient Opinion.

Kind regards.

Janice Ramsay

Head of Nursing - Gynaecology

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

Update posted by Appreciative of the NHS (the patient)

Dear Ms Ramsay,

Thank you very much for your response. I am sorry to have had reason to highlight such an important area of deficit. Caring is not a job is a vocation and you either have rhw vocation or not. Therefore, I trust that in your revision of training to assistants with such delicate reaponsibility, that it is emphasised to them that the hospital is NOT their home and professionals and patients are to be treated with respect. Too much familiarity is disrespectful and lack of focus in their role and poor appearance including utmost hygiene in their presentation, is not an option but an expectation they are expected to fulfil. I fear that our lovely NHS is indefensible when standards are allowed to drop and in my opinion, evidence of such is increasing. Someone needs to monitor those standards. That could go long way in gathering strength to overpower every effort to privatise it.

Many Thanks once again.

Response from Alison Moss, Feedback Manager, NHS Tayside

Thank you for your further comments highlighting the importance of staff undertaking their duties in a professional manner and treating patients with respect. Our staff do strive to ensure patients receive the best care experience possible and your feedback will be used to reinforce the importance of maintaining high standards.

Should you wish to provide further information to enable us to look into the specific instance you describe, please contact Alison Moss, Complaints and Feedback Team Lead on 0800 027 5507 (freephone) or via email to feedback.tayside@nhs.net.

Kind regards.

Janice Ramsay

Head of Nursing - Gynaecology

  • Appreciative of the NHS doesn't think this response is helpful
    {{helpful}} other {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} think it is helpful

Update posted by Appreciative of the NHS (the patient)

I usually find it comments or sugestions fall in deaf ears when the phrase "our staff" is used because I was not making suggestions based on thousands of employees within Our NHS. I was making a suggestion based on one experience. Out of curiosity I decided to look at other comments and was disappointed to see that it was not just me who felt the importance of highlighting a poor experience from one (hopefully not the same individual) employee. Perhaps I may add to the suggestion that recruiting people who can demonstrate emotional maturity and vocation will save large amounts of cash to our NHS on training costs when, my experience evidenced that such training is not having the desired effect.

Additionally, could the Gynecology Dept please issue a leaflet of what patients can expect when attending an Outpatients Appointment? Please have a look a the well explained leaflet issued at Stracathro Hosp. Ultrasound clinic. The best of it was that it lived to that expectation.