"Gallbladder removal - good experience, but delay in pain relief was unacceptable"

About: Good Hope Hospital / General surgery

(as the patient),

I attended an appointment in Dec and agreed with the Dr that I needed my gallbladder removed due to gallstones. My date as a Day case patient came through for early March. I attended pre op in Feb (this is a bit of a 'conveyor belt' process, although not all staff were informative [ECG nurse] it was efficient) and then went in on the date my operation was due, as an afternoon case.

I arrived at 1pm, saw a nurse at 1.30 ish and was told I was 2nd on the list and a bed would soon be available for me to go to get changed into my robe. I was sent back to the day case waiting area. Whilst still in the waiting area I saw the anaesthetist and the surgeon, however still I was not shown to my bed. At 3pm ish I was taken into a little side room and told to get changed as theatre were ready for me. By the time I'd got changed, theatre had asked another patient to go down as I should have already have been ready, however as there was no bed in day care (although I’d sat at one to talk to the surgeon, then was sent back to the waiting room?) I'd had no opportunity to get changed. This upset me greatly as I was very nervous about my surgery and I had to wait another hour (4pm) till I went down. The nurses (Zoe) and anaesthetist were fab, especially as I was terrified. Being put to sleep was rather nice in the end. I woke in recovery at 6pm to be told the op had gone well, however I would have to stay overnight (which I was thankful for having two small children).

I was taken to Ward 16 where the main nurse Helen was great. At 10pm Helen was administering drugs to patients and asked if i wanted some pain relief, I did, however due to the theatre staff not putting my prescription on the computer system I couldn't have anything! I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable. Helen confirmed she would need to wait for a Dr to prescribe something and it shouldn't take long. It took over 2 hours!! (until 12.30am) I found this completely unacceptable as I was now in more considerable pain and did not sleep well! I feel that this process must be improved.

The shift changed in the morning and the next nurses again were brilliant (particularly Ben and Chantelle) - they worked so hard and were very attentive to all patients. I saw a Dr in the morning who discharged me. However, in hindsight, he provided very little info as to how my surgery had gone and I now have some unanswered questions that I am not sure what to do with. On the whole my experience was good, however the delay in going to theatre added anxiety and the delay in pain relief was unacceptable.

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Response from Simon Jarvis, Head of Patient Engagement, Heart Of England NHS Foundation Trust

picture of Simon Jarvis

Thank you for your message and providing such a detailed summary of your experience at Good Hope Hospital. Whilst I am pleased your overall experience was positive there are some learning points for us in terms of providing timely information, minimising delays and ensuring that pain is managed appropriately for our patients. Please be assured these comments have been passed to the team for action. I note you mention you have some unanswered questions too which my patient services colleagues would be more than happy to assist you with. This can include, for example, arranging a conversation or meeting with the team who cared for you or simply getting answers for you directly without you needing to have any further involvement. If you would like to discuss this further please can you call our hotline number 0121 424 0808 between the hours of 9am - 5pm (Monday - Friday) where a member of the patient services team will be very happy to assist.

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