"Unhappy with GP's attitude"

About: Devon PCT

(as the patient),

I visited my doctor in December 2011 feeling exhausted, with heart pain, palpitations, vomiting, swollen glands, hair loss, swelling of hands and legs, trembling and digestive issues.

I was also very low as I'd been struggling with these symptoms on and off for a long time and not had any real answers or help. I had various blood tests and an ECG which came back fine. My heart behaved for the 2 minutes the ECG took! Blood tests came back first showing poor liver function and low calcium.

Nothing was done, I went home and took supplements and I was re-tested a month later and my levels were back within 'normal range'. When I asked the GP about my heart, swollen legs, hands and lymphs I was told (and not in a kind or respectful way) it was because I needed to lose weight. However my symptoms started well before I gained any weight. My weight gain was a symptom too.

When I disagreed she said "Well it's probably to do with your age then". I am 40. Many of my symptoms began when I was 24. So I challenged her assessment. She became annoyed and raised her voice then accused me of being a hypochondriac. When I asked if she could look into my heart symptoms (I'd had an episode of chest pain, racing heart, my heart stopping, me getting dizzy and then vomiting) she said aggressively "Well what do you want ME to do about it? I could send you to every consultant, what good would THAT do?"

I was very much aware that on her computer screen the whole time it showed that I had depression back in 1999 and fibromyalgia back in 2000 (both reactive following my Mother's death after 11 years with cancer). Also on screen I saw it said that my Mother had a psychiatric illness (she had a period of clinical depression following her divorce).

I was aware that the doctor looked at these notes several times as I was sat there. I felt she dismissed almost everything I said, reducing it to hysteria or hypochondria. She seemed to make a pre-judgement about me based on those notes on-screen, was rude and aggressive.

She eventually decided I had chronic fatigue syndrome and was not willing to consider anything else that may account for other symptoms.

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Response from Jo Curtis, Patient Engagement Lead, Engagement Team, South Devon and Torbay CCG

Dear Aurora Devon,

Thank you for taking the time to write about your experience. I'm sorry to hear you have not felt listened to by your GP. When you have a range of symptoms without clear diagnosis it is very worrying and important to have a good relationship with your doctor so you can both agree a way forward if possible.

If you would like any support or advice about how to manage this and what choices are available to you, the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) are here to help. The South Devon and Torbay PALS manager is Dilys and can be contacted on 01626 357035 or dilys.slater@nhs.net . She will be able to listen to your experience, give advice, liaise on your behalf or feedback your issue to the right place – depending on what you feel is best.

I hope you will feel able to contact Dilys so that we can help you resolve your situation if possible.

With best wishes,

Jo Curtis

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