I Feel Like the NHS Failed Me

I’d strap yourself in, this might be a tough one…

As most of you are aware from following my @endobunny Instagram account, I recently spent 5 days in hospital and underwent emergency surgery.  You may also know that throughout my stay, the only thing that was consistent was the shocking care I received.  

Now, I’ve been in and out of hospital more than I can remember, undergone all sorts of procedures and operations, and have complained a handful of times.  But this will be the longest and harshest complaint I’ll probably have to write.  So much so, that I am having to muster up the energy to write it because it fills me with anger that it happened. 

My admission to the gynaecology ward came from A&E. Aside from being sent to A&E via my GPs before my diagnosis, I’ve never attended A&E for my Endometriosis pain (NOTE: this is not me being heroic, it’s simply because working in healthcare has given me an awareness of how patients with chronic illnesses are perceived in the Emergency Department).  But actually, my A&E experience was slightly positive in that I went through to triage and admission in about 20-30 minutes.  But as soon as I sat down on my bed on the ward, things went downhill.

(I’ve outlined them below – even though they are a big part of this story, I don’t want to keep focusing on them)

  • No one in A&E actually admitted me to the gynaecology ward I was on on the computer system for around 4/5 hours – this meant I was not allowed any of my medication, pain relief or to go to the urgent investigations I needed
  • The gynaecology ward doctor I saw a short while after arriving left without handing over anything to the night doctor
  • The night doctor literally knew nothing about me or my conditions OR even why I was there
  • No one communicated to me that I was actually supposed to me nil-by-mouth from the moment I arrived, so I had eaten and drunk, which could have been super dangerous
  • I had long delays for pain relief and my own medication of around 2 hours 
  • I never saw a gynaecology doctor the next day
  • I was miss-informed about receiving IV fluids
  • I was so dehydrated (see point above) that I passed out in the MRI department, which led to one of the radiographers complaining to the ward
  • I was so unwell from about the 2nd or 3rd day in that I struggled to go to the bathroom without feeling dizzy or passing out- despite asking for help, no one came
  • My ultrasound results and confirmation of PCOS were simply said to me in an unpleasant manner and that was that
  • It took my own consultant (who wasn’t even on duty) to organise and push for things
  • I was miss-informed about my surgery time that I ended up having no fluids for almost 24 hours
  • The anaesthetist who was helping to “put me under” was so rude and cross that they “hadn’t had a handover about me” that it was awkward and equipment was just flung on me 
  • The recovery nurses did not take my post-op pain seriously – in fact they laughed about me and spoke about me in their own language 
  • The recovery nurses were obviously and visibly annoyed that I was staying past their home-time that despite me being unwell, I asked to go back to the ward
  • On the ward I had a healthcare assistant (HCA)
  • shout at me – twice – and then rudely talk about me to the nurse 
  • I then had a nurse tell me that “no one was responding to my call bell as the HCA was upset”
  • The ward manager came to me the following morning and told me that “my behaviour last night had been unacceptable” despite them not knowing what had happened. 
  • Despite me flagging up multiple times I was having problems with my bladder, it was ignored, and I developed a urine infection hours after coming home
  • My treatment at urgent care for my urine infection was delayed because the gynaecology ward staff hadn’t discharged me from the computer system

Throughout my stay, I had 3 nurses apologise to me for my treatment, the ward manager spoke to me and my family twice (and apologised for the way they spoke to me post-op), as well as the deputy ward manager speaking to me.  I am at a loss as to how 5 different members of staff were able to sit there and apologise to me, yet nothing changed. 

Of course, throughout my whole stay there was the general feeling that as I was dealing with a chronic condition like Endometriosis, that centered around pain, I wasn’t being taken that seriously.  Before my own consultant was able to help out, I think the hospital was quite prepared to discharge me despite the fact I was on 2-hourly morphine (a dose which you cannot have outside a hospital).  

Before I go any further, I do need to point out that the care I received from my own consultant and the surgeon that did my operation was great, and without my consultant being so prepared to help, I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. 

However, I have been left feeling almost traumatised by how I was treated.  So much so, that when I went back to the Urgent Care Centre (which is basically inside the A&E department at my hospital), I was terrified they would admit me to the ward again and there was no way I was having that!  I will never go back to that hospital – if I need any emergency or urgent care I will go elsewhere.  If I need to be referred to any gynaecology services in the future, it won’t be there.  

It goes without saying that we will be putting in a formal complaint to the chief executive, but I don’t know what that will achieve.  The ward manager advised me over and over again that they would look into it all, but when I pointed out there was no way I would end up knowing the result of that they quickly stopped mentioning it.  

I’ve never ever used the A&E department for my Endometriosis pain before, so I kinda thought that that alone would help prove how seriously unwell I was and I would be taken seriously, but I guess I was wrong.  I can appreciate how understaffed and stretched NHS services are, but the things I have experienced go beyond this.  My consultant was shocked at how I was treated, and the unfortunate thing is that they wanted to keep me in for longer after my operation but I was having none of it.  I can’t help wonder if I’d have stayed in whether I wouldn’t be having the problems I’m having now.  But nothing is worth it when you feel like you’ve been “black marked” – I mean, come on – telling me that no healthcare professional was going to respond to me pressing the call bell?  How on earth is that care?

The good thing is is that I have evidence and witnesses for all the above.  

I have been left feeling like the NHS failed me.  Yes, they eventually sorted out my pain relief and yes they did operate on me, but if I hadn’t made a fuss about contacting my consultant and have people fighting my corner, I am certain I’d have been sent home without anything.  Even the care in the A&E triage system was confusing – the A&E nurse told me I would go straight to the surgical ward and see the general surgeons (why on earth it wouldn’t be the gynae doctors, I don’t know!) but the A&E doctor told me I could just go home and come back to the emergency clinic (no thank you – I was not going to see some random gynae in a clinic so overrun you got 5 minutes with a junior doctor at your best). 

The NHS has let me down this time.  I promise you I am not making a fuss or being dramatic, and I have to complain so that it doesn’t happen to anyone else.  I’ve read so many other peoples poor experiences, I just never thought I’d be one of them. 

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