Salisbury, England, SP2 8BJ
I transferred here from Manchester Stepping Hill Hospital. When I was 30 years old I was diagnosed and treated (in Manchester) for Stage 1 cervical cancer (9 months after having my son.) The care I received in Manchester was out of this world and it only took 6 weeks from diagnosis to getting the all clear. I had a dedicated trained Oncology/gyne nurse who I could call with questions or discuss my case and be there for the emotional/mental side to a cancer diagnosis as well as the physical. I couldn't fault the care they gave me (especially as my children were only 9 months old and 2 and a half.) Move forward to transferring to Salisbury and I can only say it is THE worst place Ive ever been treated (and that says something!) As a result of my shock cancer diagnosis (ive had clear smears every 3 years and been religious in having them, my cancer grew in 2 years) I was left with extreme anxiety and suffering with panic attacks. I went for my 1st 6 monthly check up (I was told it would be every 6 months for 5 years then yearly for 5 years after that all being well) and got the "all clear". Great I thought I could move on with my life, it helped reduce my anxiety and stress was eating and sleeping fine and even started up my own business. I then had complications and had to return to the hospital. They did a colposcopy and said it was fine to come back at my "6 month point". So I returned slightly anxious but in good faith that I would get it sorted. I went into the room and was treated horribly! As a result of a LOT of surgery I'm left in a lot of pain during these procedures. Despite asking for help with the pain ( local anaesthetic or pain relief) they just ignored me. The procedure was so painful I was screaming for them to stop. I got told "Lots of people have this and its not that bad" that it was my fault because I'm anxious, and when I screamed for the doctor to stop I was faced with "well its got to be done so I'm going to carry on anyway!" It resulted in an inadequate sample being taken and me being told I would have to go back in 3 months. It left me highly anxious (something I had just got on top of with the help of counselling) and having panic attacks. Roll on 3 months time. I go to my GP to get some medical help to help me get through it again seeing as the hospital clearly weren't going to provide it for me. I arrive having taken a lot of pain killers and diazapan only to be told that I wasn't being seen by a consultant as my consultant had left. I was also told that they didn't know who I would be seeing and that I would only be checked at the yearly point not 6 monthly (it was at this point I put in a verbal complaint against the department). I let the nurse do the smear and despite being in a lot of pain but more unaware of what was happening thanks to the meds she was confident she got the sample. I was told to call after 2 weeks if I hadn't had a letter. So I called again on Thursday 7th September to be told the nurse would phone me back. No phone call! Saturday morning I receive another letter through the post stating the sample was "inadequate!" Queue more panic attacks and worry over the weekend as I couldn't get hold of anyone to discuss the issue. The letter was dated the 6th September so they had the results in when I phoned but clearly too chicken to phone me to actually discuss my care! I phoned up again today to the customer complaints to take the matter further and magically I'm being listened to and I have to go in at the end of September to discuss their failings. I was told getting 2 back to back inadequates was very rare indeed but to me this highlights a possible training issue with staff members (despite being told these are very experienced medical staff - which I don't contest, however how can 2 happen and it not be an issue?) Despite them doing this probably daily and it being 2 different members of staff they clearly cant do their jobs correctly. I feel they have failed me in every single possible way. They don't supply ANY after care for people who have had the diagnosis and treatment it is a case of "well you have been treated move on" which simply isn't the case, a cancer diagnosis can (especially a shock one like mine) can leave you feeling very vulnerable and afraid! You feel like a number who goes in has their checks and move on. They take no consideration to peoples well being after having cancer other than follow ups. You have no one to call if you have questions about your on going care. They don't offer any help with pain they just expect you to get on with it. I am now nearly a whole year without an "all clear" as it a result its highly affected me. I'm now back to having panic attacks all the time, I'm highly anxious all the time, I'm not sleeping or eating. And being self employed it has also had an effect on my ability to work and focus. I see a counsellor who helps me manage this anxiety however the uncertainty and lack of continual care or knowing who is doing what in the department means I cant regain control. As a result I am now going to give them 1 final chance to rectify this issue, after speaking to a lead nurse (I have an appointment with the consultant to discuss their failings) because I don't want to have to travel over an hour to our next nearest hospital with 2 small children. I have no regular child care as my family live 3 hours away and a lot of the time having to deal with this whilst my husband is deployed with the armed forces (which also affects him as he is constantly worrying about how I am coping and whether the hospital are going to fail me again.) If this appointment doesn't work I WILL transfer out of this hospital and highly recommend people go elsewhere if you have had gyne cancer issues because if they have failed me I would like to know how many other women will be affected too! No woman should ever be made to feel the way I have by Salisbury district hospital!!