"Lack of empathy"

About: Hairmyres Hospital / Emergency department

(as the patient),

Friday evening 5pm I was taken seriously ill with stomach pains/vomiting. I was in severe pain and my adult children called NHS 24. Paramedic arrived, administered gas/air and ordered me to go straight to A & E at Hairmyres Hosp, East Kilbride. Due to severe weather conditions, the ambulance was unable to get to my house and the Paramedic asked if my daughter could drive and take me to the Hosp. I was writhing in pain and vomiting during this journey. The ambulance turned up 2 mins after we left I believe.

On arrival at the Hosp, I was put in a chair and taken to Reception. My pain was so severe that I could not sit in the chair and fell to to the ground in a ball crying iin agony. I have sailed through child birth twice with no problems, but this was a different type of pain/agony that I had ever endured.

My daughter was distraught and screamed for someone to help me. The Receptionist insisted on Name, Address, DOB before anyone would attend. My daughter begged for someone to help and look after me. She had never seen me in such a state and was genuinely very frightened and upset.

7 hours of my husband and daughter watching me in pain/vomiting and few people liaising telling them what was happening followed.

Much of my memory goes pretty vague after that but I do remember asking my daughter if I was going to die and for some water.

At no time, did a Nurse empathise with my daughter - she asked for some water to be told that I was Nil by mouth - yes but can she have some water though? My daughter, who is I must add a Teacher and has never been involved in anything medical did not know nor understand what was going on.

She was deeply upset, distressed and confused - at no time did anyone comfort/explain what was happening or that I was in good hands.

Placed in Ward 2 in the early hours waiting for the Dr to assess me whilst my husband and daughter still watched me in pain/agony/vomiting. They did not want to leave and wanted to see the Dr - staff told them to go home because the Dr may not get to me until 7am! They were not happy but I insisted that they go.

My pain was so severe all night and I pressed my buzzer each time I was sick and was crying with exhaustion. I told the Nurses that I could not sleep because of the pain and the Nurse barked that I was not there for sleep problems, was nil by mouth, to hush up and that they were very busy. I asked her what was going to happen and she said I would probably go for an Ultrasound scan the next day but there were more deserving cases in front of me. No pain relief was given for the whole night and I was tired still in pain, weak & vomiting. I did not sleep.

Early morning - I was moved to another ward where they had started the drugs round. Within minutes, I was offered Morphine to which I replied I don't' think I am allowed - the Nurse insisted it was in my notes and if I was in pain then I should have it! The Dr followed about an hour later and confirmed this information.

I was furious.

4 days followed of my being nil by mouth, on a drip & vomiting repeatedly throughout the day & night.

After 4 days/nights of this - I was pleading for a fresh taste and was desperate for water. Whatever drips were going in they were not staying and making me violently ill. I asked for their help/advice and wanted a few sips of water and explained my case to the Staff Nurse and Dr that night who eventually agreed that I could sip some water. If I was sick, then I would have to stop the water - but I was being consistently sick on the drips and was always put back on them so I did not quite see the logic!

The information filtered through to the other nurses and sadly I was sick. I could hear them at the Nurses Station laughing/joking about me and was very weak/upset/distressed/angry.

After 5 days they found I had a twisted bowel with adhesions and operated on me straight away. Why oh why did it take so long to find after a kidney & CT scan and 3 failed ultrasound scans?

Whilst I owe my life to the NHS and am extremely grateful, there are some areas which need to be addressed and I would like some answers with a view to improving the lack of empathy with my daughter first and foremost, the awful treatment and uncaring staff I came into contact with in  Ward 2 and the failure to carry out the Drs orders for my severe pain relief.

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Response from Christine McNeill, Patient Affairs Manager, Hairmyres Hospital, NHS Lanarkshire

Dear Cremeshadow

I’m so sorry to read about your experience when you recently attended the Emergency Department at Hairmyres Hospital. So that I can investigate the concerns you have raised further I would be very grateful if you could contact me on 01355 585325.


Christine McNeill

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Response from Gwen MacIntyre, Senior Nurse, Senior Nurse for the Care of the Elderly, Hairmyres Hospital

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Dear Cremeshadow,

Thank you for your feedback which must have been difficult to write given your poor experience from our services and staff here at Hairmyres Hospital.

I greatly appreciate that you were able to spend some time yesterday afternoon on the phone with me to explore your journey and to give me the opportunity to apologise on behalf of NHS Lanarkshire for any distress you and your family experienced.

As we discussed, it is imperative we have the correct patient information upon arrival to our emergency department to ensure safe care, however the patient condition should have been the foremost priority and I will ask my colleague for emergency care to speak to the staff concerned to avoid this type of occurrence.

Upon reviewing your records, we discussed the rationale and documented instructions regarding oral fluid intake and Intra-venous therapy. As a result of our conversation the lessons I will share with staff are that of being person centred and that clear communication is paramount to ensure a full understanding for care with both patient and family members.

It is extremely difficult for anyone when faced with an emergency admission to Hospital and consideration should always be given not only to the patient but also to the feelings and emotions of family members who experience this journey with our patients. On this occasion I am sorry to say we appear to have failed to treat your family with the care and respect I would want for anyone who crosses our threshold here at Hairmyres Hospital.

Lessons will be shared with staff across our departments and wards which will include the importance of clear communication, appropriate pain control and review thereof as required by each patient’s needs. Provision of compassionate care whilst protecting patient dignity and in a person centred manner.

As discussed, I have shared details of your concerns with staff in an anonymous manner as requested whilst still allowing a reflection of staff practices.

I hope your recovery progresses and you continue to return to enjoying full health in the near future.

Kind Regards


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Response from Susan Friel, Chief of Nursing Services, Hairmyres Hospital, NHS Lanarkshire

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Dear Cremeshadow

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us here, and particularly for taking the time to speak to Gwen. We clearly did not provide you with the help or support that you needed, and for that I am truly sorry.

I know you and Gwen have talked through your experience, and I hope you are reassured that we have fully taken on the lessons that need to be learned from this, and will make the changes we need to make.

Please accept my best wishes for your recovery.



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