"Irresponsible advice"

About: Princess Alexandra Hospital (Harlow)

I am writing to let you know my dissatisfaction with the A&E service provided at Princess Alexandra Hospital on the 21st of November of 2015.

After my experience in such a hospital, I contacted the Complaints Department and the Chief Executive´s Office of the hospital to express my dissatisfaction. However, none of these departments have replied my comments so far, confirming me their lack of professional attitude.

As my experience at this hospital was extremely disappointing I do consider that it has to be shared for the good of future potential patients.

On Friday 20th of November, I was in a hotel nearby the Stansted Airport. I was supposed to travel the next day at 7 a.m. in order to visit my mother who has been recently diagnosed with acute leukaemia. At that moment, she was already receiving chemotherapy.

When I went to bed I realised that my chest and back were covered with red itchy spots. Some of them were blister-like so I thought about the possibility of chickenpox.

As I was going to visit my mother in such a special situation, I did not want to risk her health. That is why I wanted to see a doctor. I arrived at the hospital at about 1 a.m. on the 21st of November. It did not take too long to see a doctor. However, when the doctor examined me, the doctor was not sure about the exact diagnostic, so that the doctor looked for their supervisor´s opinion. When they arrived, they totally discarded chickenpox. Their only argument was that chickenpox is almost impossible to be present in adults. Moreover, the doctor recommended me to visit my mother with no worries at all, despite of the fact of being already under chemotherapy treatment. The doctor's exact words were “if I were you, I would visit your mother”. As I was not fully convinced about their diagnostic (my spots were very characteristic), I decided not to fly. A few hours later my body was covered with more spots and blisters.

The 23rd of November I went to the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Once I arrived and told at reception desk that I thought I had chickenpox, they quickly isolated me in order to not transmit it to other patients. This was not done when being at Princess Alexandra and I do really think it is a basic good practice. Once the doctor examined me, they immediately diagnosed me with chickenpox (I do have a certificate stating so). The doctor highly recommended isolation.

I am very thankful that I did not fly in the end as it would have been fatal for my mother. In my opinion, it was a total irresponsibility to advise me to visit my mother in such a condition. The doctor said they were totally sure that I was not suffering from chickenpox. In fact, the doctor said it was acne. I am very disappointed with the service provided at the Princess Alexandra Hospital. I do really hope these comments are useful for the future management of similar situations.

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Response from Princess Alexandra Hospital

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you so much for taking the time to record your concerns about your diagnosis. I am very sorry you were not taken more seriously and isolated as you have described was done when the condition worsened and you were seen at another hospital, this is a matter of some concern and has been escalated as an issue within the Medical Healthcare Group who are the responsible team.

I do hope you have made a full recovery and wish you all the best. If in future, you need to contact a member of the Patient Experience Team for support please call us on 012789 82 70 84 and we will do everything we possibly can to assist.

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