"A need for compassion after a long, long wait"

About: Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh at Little France / General Surgery

(as the patient),

So after 4 days and nights in hospital and no diagnosis I'm getting tetchy. Those endless nights lurching between pain, the disruption of loud staff and fellow patients agonies. The boring days of magazines, sleep, the books you hoped to read, the trashy magazines you do, and the unfathomable regimes of ward life. It was morning number 5. I was weepy- the worst possible hangover from a solid 4 hours sleep. I was wrung dry by not knowing day after day, what was wrong, what was going to happen and when I'd get home. Added to this I had been moved from the main ward to the day case ward, not really designed for more than 24-48 hours. No windows, much more cramped, and my bed in the corridor so no privacy.

A member of staff slams open my curtain. No ' how are you? ' No 'How did you sleep? '.

They then suggested that I had decided to fast and told me that I should have had breakfast as I was not going to get seen and even if you I was it wouldn't be till later.

That was enough for the tears to well. I held it in. I countered, saying that I discussed with the staff last night and we agreed that it would be better to fast because I didn't want to find out the operation is going ahead tomorrow and then have to wait another day because I hadn't fasted. I'd been in for days not knowing what's going on and I couldn't bear to be in longer.

Empathy? Sympathy? None of it. Standing in the furthest corner of my booth holding the folder of my charts like a shield, staff said that they were told that I  was fasting voluntarily- my obs were all normal and that I  wouldn't get surgery that day. I was told that I should have had breakfast and it was my decision not to eat.

Let's not spend more time on the rest of the conversation or details- just to say there was no bedside manner. The staff member basically tore me off a strip, and of course I was filled with doubt and very upset. I think the tears got rid of them. Other staff came to comfort me. Then later a nice nurse came, and I discussed with her what had happened.

So it turns out the consultant does want to operate, and I did need to fast, but I could have had breakfast which would have been nice- though I felt too sick to eat it. So mainly I was right. The night staff could have advised me to eat breakfast.

Now I am the awkward patient. I have felt like an outsider on this ward since I arrived because it is for routine surgery. Those of us from other wards are called 'boarders'. I don't have an allocated nurse, and I have a terrible bed. Staff have taken every opportunity to remind me that I should have had breakfast, even though no one suggested that at the time and had that 'told you so' attitude about the fact I am getting dehydrated- even thought that happens to every fasting patient. I feel a cool breeze from all of the staff- for example it seems no one has been told that I am having surgery today. Maybe I am over-sensitive and reading too much into things, but it can be hard on the outside.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››


Response from Lynsey McMillan, Team Manager - Complaints & Feedback, Patient Experience Team, NHS Lothian

Dear Caralyn,

I was so sorry to read of your experiences when you attended the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, it is not of the standard that l would have hoped or expected for you.

To would be happy to look into this further and would be grateful if you can please contact me at the Patient Experience Team on Tel 0131 536 3370 or via email feedback@nhslothian.scot.nhs.uk

Kind regards


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