A first account of NHS treatment from a person suffering from a long term illness:

Sometimes the past never leaves us. For a person suffering from long term illness, the present is a constant reminder of the past. My mum was involved in an accident in 1983 that changed her life forever. Over the past 31 years my mum has survived cancer twice, and has been an excellent mother to her five children.

As a disabled, pensioner, who has suffered with this injury for more than three decades, she is a patient that knows the routine. One leg is shorter than the other as a result of the operation she had after the initial accident. Each year the hospital Othotics Department in Cheltenham has built up her right shoe. She takes in one a year (this number used to be higher, but budgets cuts means that the vulnerable in society, such as the disabled and elderly, are overlooked) so that she is able to walk. After surviving cancer and receiving excellent treatment before, there was never even a thought that the day of the 31st of March would be any different. Instead, she was refused treatment.

Earlier today my mum was refused medical treatment. My mum was left disabled for life after an accident which took place in 1983. Since then she has raised five children and survived cancer, twice! She is currently waiting for another, unrelated, operation. And yet today she was refused medical treatment!
After an accident in 1983, which was followed by a long hospital stay and constant check-ups, today she was refused the access to the Othotics department, Cheltenham, by Sandra (who is not a medical professional). After walking into the department Sandra took one look at the shoe which was to be built up and said, ‘I can’t take this’. After a brief discussion in-which it was not, explained why she flat-out refused, she then went to retrieve the medical notes for my mum. Sandra then claimed that my mum had been discharged from their care over two years ago. (Yet, it only took her seconds to get her notes.) I was present and questioned, in that case, why she still had instant access to the paper notes of patients she didn’t treat. Sandra then raised her voice, which caused the argument to escalate. Sandra was further proved untrustworthy, as if in fact my mum was discharged from the care of the department, why was her shoe built up for her the same time last year? This instantly demonstrated to me that Sandra did not know what she was talking about. She didn’t have a caring, compassionate or helpful bone in her body. (Departments are not meant to keep notes of patients they do not treat, they are meant to be archived. She claimed that over the past two years she had not had time to move a file.)

Sandra then further claimed that a policy had always been in-place. Yet, in the previous 31 years this has never happened. The policy of seeing the shoe maker every six months, yet only one pair of shoes are able to be built up a year. She further told us that she was discharged we’d have to have a referral from our GP. We instantly, with Sandra still present, phoned the GP who faxed over a referral letter, and who also claimed this whole exercise unofficial and pointless, especially as those in the Othotics department were not medical personal and so did not have the right nor authority to dismiss a patient from care. The GP was able to bring up the notes and could see that the patient had suffered an accident which caused her to need shoes built-up, he could see no problem in why this wasn’t happening. Sandra then decided to phone her manager, who, not only wasn’t even in the same hospital, she wasn’t even in the same area! This manager proved to be condescending and unprofessional. I was the person who spoke to this manager; she instantly discussed my mum’s medical history and details with me, even though the patient had not given consent for this to happen. This manager claimed not to know why the policy wasn’t always working but said it was in-place. Yet no helpful information was given and she continued to be rather short tempered. Neither women were able to have a good hospital manner, neither was able to keep calm, nor offer a solution. My mum has had one leg shorter than the other since the accident in 1983; she has therefore walked with an aid the entire time I’ve known her.

The entire situation was blown to tempers and went way out of hand, due to the unprofessional and uncompassionate nature of Sandra and her satellite manager. We still don’t understand why we were not informed of this ‘discharge’ and why they want her to visit the shoemaker when absolutely nothing in her condition has changed. In the past, a lovely gentleman named Mr Flitcher used to have the job the Sandra is now supposed to be doing. He never once had a problem with her and vice versa. Over the past few years the number of shoes they are to build up a year down decreased to one. So now this department is denying my mum the right to walk properly!

My mum was fortunate to survive cancer, she was fortunate to have survived the accident back in 1983. Yet the accident itself left her crippled for the rest of her left. She will also need to walk with an aid and a built up shoe. Being discharged; without purpose, causing long lasting negative impacts for the patient, without even a letter, is an utter disgrace!