"My experience at Forth Valley GP Out of Hours service last night"

About: Forth Valley Royal Hospital / GP Out of Hours

(as a service user),

I am compelled to take the time to put into words how poor the experience was that I had last night, with my son who has tonsillitis. The GP had no people skills whatsoever and was unfriendly.  The GP's attention to cross infection was appalling. The doctor was extremely slow in everything that they did and there were unacceptable long waits between patients being seen. In addition, the staff we came into contact with, in general, lacked compassion or interest, and did little to help. My husband and I both work in the NHS and are embarrassed and incredibly disappointed.

We arrived in the waiting room with my teenage son for a late evening appointment that we had been given. He had a high temperature and just wanted to be in his bed.

As we arrived it was apparent that moments earlier there had been an incident with another patient, a child. One of the receptionists had come over to have a look as we arrived but then retreated and sat-or hid-behind their computer screen leaving the patient and their relatives to deal with the situation. 

Staff seemed disinterested!  The receptionist did not communicate this with the patient or family or offer her any reassurance at all.  They just sat behind her computer screen. Then the doctor appeared from a doorway down the hall calling the patient's name.  A family friend explained what had happened. Astonishingly the doctor just retreated back to their room showing no interest in the situation. Another 5 minutes went by and it's now about 10.30 and I thought my son would be taken instead. My son's appointment had been at 10pm.  The young patient and their family eventually got seen by the doctor.

My very unwell son still sat there waiting patiently.

They appeared about 10 minutes later and called a taxi, sat down in the waiting area and young patient was very unwell.  Still the receptionist sat 10 feet away. Meanwhile my husband and I helped. 

Eventually the doctor called my son at about 10.45 or 10.50 perhaps.  Good luck my husband said! ''I'll give the doctor the benefit of the doubt'', I thought. We followed the GP into a room where they were already sitting with their back to me when I walked in. Without turning round the doctor barked at me 'close the door'.  I found the doctor rude, cold and unpleasant.

My son could barely speak with his very swollen throat so I started to explain why  I had phoned the NHS. The reason was that, although we suspected it was tonsillitis, the University had issued an email to all students today informing them that some students had contracted mumps.  We were wanting to get our son checked because he was so unwell. I never got to explain this because the doctor abruptly cut me off and pointed at my son to explain.

The doctor began to thoroughly examined him but did not wash their hands first.  The doctor told him he had tonsillitis and then left the room-for at least 5 minutes.  The doctor left their very large bag open on the desk in front of us along with their personal belongings including a diary and phone. Alongside all of this on the desk, right in front of my son sat a cardboard sick-bowl filled with tongue spatulas and tissues-obviously from the examinations before us. It was very apparent that attention to cross infection control and cleanliness and the doctor's personal security was non-existent.  It was disgusting and the potential for spread of infection between the doctor and patients was alarming. 

My son and I sat in complete disbelief at everything that we had witnessed over the last hour  up to this point. The doctor returned with tablets - not the right ones - sighed - then went off again for another few minutes.  I felt the doctor was slow and disorganised. My son was given antibiotics and painkillers and we left.

When we returned to the waiting room the cleaner had arrived to freshen up the waiting room. My husband had watched her and said she was excellent. She had asked him if he had seen the incident and exactly where it had been and what seats were affected and thoroughly washed everything down. Hallelujah! Someone had done a good job!

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Responses

Response from Elaine Kettings, Person Centred Manager, Nursing, NHS Forth Valley We are preparing to make a change

Dear FalkirkDolly

I was very disappointed to hear of your recent experience in our GP Out of Hours service based in Forth Valley Royal Infirmary. The behaviours you witnessed are not those that we expect from our staff in NHS Forth Valley and I’d like to apologise on behalf of the service.

Following the posting of your comments, I took the opportunity to walk round the Out of Hours department, to better understand the context and layout, and I spoke with team members including receptionists. I also discussed your comments with the service’s new clinical leads, Dr Mair and Dr Webster.

With regards to what you witnessed, although the receptionists had promptly sought help for the young child in requesting cleaning services, they hadn’t appreciated how they had appeared indifferent to the waiting room and will reflect on what could have been done differently. The whole team was disappointed to hear how you and the other family had experienced this episode and are determined to improve.

In addition to a leadership walkround, other specific actions have been taken in light of your feedback. Regarding the doctor you saw, this was a locum doctor who did not reach the standards I expect of a doctor in NHS Forth Valley, either in their behaviours on the night as you described or their subsequent response to my clinical leads’ request for their reflections and response, and we will therefore no longer be employing that individual. The doctor will also be obliged to discuss your comments during their appraisal with their locum agency.

In terms of the wider Out of Hours team, they have agreed to facilitate much more feedback by signposting Care Opinion prominently in their department to ensure that patients are encouraged to let them know the quality of their experience and I welcome that openness and look forward to seeing what that looks like in practice.

Allow me again to apologise for you and your son’s experience and to thank you for taking the time to get in touch to highlight where we need to do better.

Regards

Andrew Murray, Medical Director

NHS Forth Valley

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