Somebody has asked me recently if my treatment was any better because I worked for the NHS. The answer is NO, for a start not all of them were aware of where I worked.
My treatment throughout this whole process has ranged between good to excellent. The best part was being treated within a specialist hospital. The Univercity College London Hospital (UCLH), has it’s own cancer centre. It is a fairly new building, opening about a year ago. The building was well thoughtout and the environment is spacious and airy with plenty of natural light coming in. It makes for a good place to work, (I asked one of the nurses) as well as a relaxing place to visit as a patient. This makes a difference to the staff and they all seemed very calm, professional and caring. The service I received there was excellent. If I am being really picky, there are a few areas for improvement I suppose. The hospital has a patient portal system. This is a website where you can log in with your hospital number and find out when your next appointments are and leave messages for the people you are working with. This is fairly new and does seem to have some teething problems. The information is often wrong or out of date. I think, like any data base, it’s only as good as the information that is fed into it. So often I would be told of an appointment time by my specialist nurse and that would then differ from the information on the system, so I soon learnt not to trust it. Other than that my treatment has been faultless. All the doctors I have seen have been professional and friendly. I felt that I have been treated as an individual and have been given time whilst my wishes have been heard and respected. The nurses have also been excellent, nothing has seemed too much trouble and they have always done their best to make sure I have understood the procedures I have had to undertake. I have also been given excellent written information which I have been given time to digest and then I have been asked if I have had any questions. When I had my harvesting done, lying there for six hours allowed me to observe the nurses practice. They were short of staff the day I was there, and extremely busy but even so, I observed them to always wash their hands and put new gloves on in between each patient they attended to. They were professional but friendly at all times and a credit to their profession. Janet, my care co-ordinator and a research assistant, working alongside the doctors on the trial, has always been very supportive and ensured appointments were made at the most convenient times to allow for the journey time we had to make. At all times she kept us fully informed with the appointments and procedures I needed to undertake. For example yesterday I received an email from her explaining that I would need another bone biopsy carrying out. She asked if I would rather be sedated or not, clearly explaiming the pro’s and cons of both. She then said she would organise the appointment for after the party.
Locally I have been supported by the palliative care team, working for Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust. Yet again my treatment has been excellent. The nurse assigned to me was at all times extremely professional but also friendly and approachable. Nothing was ever too much trouble as she supported both Colin and I through some difficult times. She arranged for my medication to be changed and ready promptly for collection at my local GP practice, co-ordinating with my GP and the hospital. Louise also managed to set up more appointments with my psychologist when she recognised the need. My psychlogist was also extremely professional but helpful and accommodated my needs by visiting me at home and then organising appointments at the local Hospice. The support I have received at the Hospice has also been wonderful, with the doctors there spending 45 minutes listening and working alongside both Colin and I to plan the best course of action to holistically manage my pain. They also have and still are providing me with regular reflexology sessions.
So looking at the health service from the other side I couldn’t feel more proud. I was a reluctant patient and making the transition from nurse to patient was a difficult one, but at all times I have felt confident and comfortable with the support and treatment I have received.
Thank you to all of you who have been involved in my immediate care.