"When I eventually saw an appropriate..."
About: Hereford County Hospital Hereford County Hospital Hereford HR1 2ER
Posted by Peter Martin
What I liked
When I eventually saw an appropriate doctor (only after my wife had insisted on this), they were helpful and courteous. The remainder of my experience was distressing and discriminatory.
What could be improved
I suffer from a rare progressive neurological illness, which has recently started to cause breathing difficulties, in addition to mobility and communication problems and excruciating pain. I am registered as disabled and have a Herefordshire Telecare system in my home. My breathing problems were so bad one day in June that I had to call for assistance and an ambulance took me to the A&E department.. I took with me a file providing information on my condition. I was seen by a nurse, who refused to look at my file and told me it was not necessary for me to see a doctor because there was "nothing wrong" with me (despite our telling him that I was under the care of the hospital respiratory team). The nurse wore no identity badge, so we had to ask for their name name. My wife arrived and insisted that I see the consultant, who eventually appeared and agreed that I should see a general physician, but only after they had told me that I was "primary care's responsibility" and that I should have gone to the walk-in centre in Asda's car park. (I am disabled, I do not drive and was alone in the house when my difficulties arose!!!). They also told us that there were far more patients than hospital beds! The incident caused us great distress and personal anxiety. What happens next time my illness results in a medical emergency?
We have subsequently spoken to management, two members of the PALS team and the ward staff, each of whom have assured us that the matter is being investigated and that we would receive a written apology. So far, none has arrived.
It seems that, despite the evidence I had provided about the nature of my illness, the hospital was prepared to turn me away on the sole basis of the opinion of a nurse who had made their disinterest in my condition obvious. Is this how Hereford Hospitals treats patients with disabling illnesses when they need emergency care? Will it happen again if I have another medical emergency?
I am otherwise entirely satisfied with the excellent care I have received elsewhere within the County Hospital, particularly from the respiratory team. Similarly from the excellent primary health and social care services in Herefordshire. I am also completely satisfied with care received from University College Hospital, London, who oversee my condition. I owe a great deal to the NHS, for which I am very grateful. However, I have raised this issue out of concern not only for myself but for other vulnerable people who may have the misfortune to receive inappropriate treatment in the A&E department. I realise that Hereford A&E is under great pressure and is trying to reduce attendances, but surely proper nursing and medical procedures should be followed in doing so, including taking into account relevant information the patient was attempting to provide (not refusing to look at it!!!). How long will it be before there is a tragedy?
At the time, I was wearing dressing gown and pyjamas - my illness causes an unsteady gait and sometimes confused speech. I believe I may have been discriminated against because of this.