Patient stories

So that we can continually improve our services for our patients, it’s really important that we listen to you and learn from your experiences, whether positive or negative.

That’s why we’re encouraging as many of our patients as possible to share their experiences of their time in our hospitals with us.

This feedback will help us to know where we need to focus and where we can make changes, as well as ensure the right people hear about it when you want to praise them for the great care you received.

Hearing directly from our patients is really important for our staff and your story in your own words can be incredibly powerful.

So please take a few minutes to complete this form and tell us your story. Your feedback could help us make changes which could benefit you in the future, other patients, or even your own family and friends.

We share a patient story at every induction we hold for our new staff, as well as with our Trust Board when it meets monthly.

Stories are always told anonymously, unless we contact you beforehand to gain your consent to use your personal information, and to share your story more widely.

Remember, this form is for you to share your story only - you won’t receive an immediate response from us. Instead:

David's story

David My story started in the summer of 2012 with stomach pains and reflux after eating dried fruit in cakes.

My wife nagged me to go to my doctor which I eventually did at the beginning of September and after seeing a young locum who fast tracked me to Queen’s Hospital. He gave no indication of what he thought the problem could be.

I attended Queen’s for an endoscopy but they only gave me a throat numbing spray and I had a very bad gagging reflex which caused the camera to damage my oesophagus. I had to wait two weeks for it to repair and then returned for the same procedure but this time with lots of sedation. They took a biopsy and the doctor suggested that I possibly had an ulcer.

About a week later I got a call from the consultant's secretary asking me to attend the following week to see Mr. Mukherjee. This should have rung some alarm bells, but didn't. When I went into the consulting room a nurse came and sat down next to me, but still no alarm bells. I must be a bit thick!

It was then that I was told I had oesophagus cancer at the point where the oesophagus joined the stomach. Fortunately it was classed as T1, the smallest size they measure.

There used to be an advert on the TV made for Macmillan Nurses. It showed people in a daze and collapsing after being told they have cancer. This is so true. You hear the diagnosis but only take in the part about having cancer - you don't really hear much of the rest of the conversation.

I somehow drove home and had to then tell my wife and family, which was quite a traumatic time.

Two weeks later I returned to Queen’s for my operation. I don't mind coming into hospital and find the whole experience interesting, so I was keen to know what was going to happen. I was given an epidural and sedation and then went to the operating theatre. I had what is known as an Ivor Lewis procedure where they removed all of my oesophagus and part of my stomach. They pulled what remained of my stomach up and joined it to the bottom of my lower throat. This involved four hours of keyhole surgery followed by me being flipped over to deflate my right lung and opening up my back just below my shoulder blade and removing the bits that way. A total of nine hours on the operating table. I was then in HDU for five days during which time I was on medication which made me convinced I had gone back in time and clearly remember seeing large black spiders walking all over the walls.

I spent three weeks here as I had developed a chest infection and had a chest drain inserted for five days. I was lucky as I didn't needed chemotherapy and I'm now on yearly checkups. I have to watch what I eat as my body can't handle fibrous meat such as beef and lamb or anything with a lot of sugar or yeast in it, but apart from that I'm still here and enjoying my family and beautiful grandchildren.

I wanted to give something back to the hospital for all the outstanding care and treatment I have received so about a year ago I became a volunteer as a patient partner. This involves looking at hospital procedures and practices from a patient perspective.

I have taken part in a number of Rapid Procedure Improvement Workshop looking at ways of speeding up the process when patients are discharged and then have to wait to receive their medication before going home. Another looked at the time it takes for staff reporting medical incidents and how it could be improved. Both of these were very successful in reducing time for both our patients and staff.

I have also been involved in looking at the various direction signs and maps we have around the hospital and how easy they are to understand and follow for our patients and relatives.

In my experience patient care and attention to detail is at the centre of everything this trust does and whenever a change is proposed by either staff, the executive of an outside body there is always a patient partner within the group discussions to ensure that patient perspective is thoroughly discussed and considered before any changes are made.

Kate's story

Patient in bed smiling

I came to be a patient at Queen’s Hospital in December 2016 after a turbulent five weeks of continual migraines, vomiting and a dubious looking CAT scan (which we now know was a benign brain tumour) at Colchester A&E that was sent to the Neurology Team for a second opinion. I was blue lighted down the A12 on a Monday morning, in the peak of rush hour, unconscious, with the surgical team ready and waiting. Just a few hours later, I was recovering well from my External Ventricular Drain (EVD) operation.

My first, genuine, heart felt thank you is to the kind person who cut and shaved my hair to enable the drain to be inserted into my head. I’m very proud of my hair. So, when I eventually surfaced in Sahara B ward to find that a big strip of my hair had gone, I was a smidge freaked. That was until I ascertained that my lifesaving undercut had been blended so well with the parting of my hair that you can’t even tell I have hair missing. In the words of my hairdresser: “That is a very impressive job, they’ve really gone above and beyond to factor it in with the rest of your hair.” And that’s the point; they did take the time to think about it and they didn’t have to. They could have taken all my hair off or just shaved it in a non-flattering way because if the priority is to remove fluid that is essentially boiling my brain, ‘discussing hair dos’ is probably just wasting precious time. But somebody stopped, thought about the emotional impact on me and demonstrated a level of empathy that is really hard to come by these days.

And then there’s Sahara B ward. I can handon-heart say that the six days I spent on Sahara B were some of the most positive and pleasurable I have had. I remember one nurse called Maria (who I sensed had been stitched up with an extra-long shift) who never dropped her smile once and remained polite and extremely professional throughout. There is one nurse who I have to extend a personal thank you to – Louise who was working a nightshift one night when I was having what can only be described as a ‘ridiculous meltdown’. Louise was extremely kind and patient with me – she even went to the effort of making me a hot chocolate to help me sleep. And last, but by no means least I have to say a huge, massive, profound thank you to the utterly gorgeous and very talented Mr Vindlacheruvu. This guy is without doubt not only the hero of the whole situation, but my very own hero who categorically saved my life. I hope that you are genuinely proud of all your colleagues because they are truly remarkable and they represent everything that is fantastic about the NHS. Their hard work, commitment and compassion means so much to me, that I will always think the world of every single one of them.

Jennifer's story

Jen Sykes

My GP said that because of my symptoms I needed to have a colonoscopy. To be honest, I was dreading it because I had had a dreadful experience at Queen’s Hospital about 10 years ago.

This time, the whole experience was amazing. It made me appreciate that we expect the clinical care to be good and, as long as it is, then what matters to the patient is how they are made to feel. 

It all started with the wonderful Raj phoning me a few days after I saw my GP and together we arranged an appointment date and time. It was so good not to just be sent an appointment and then the difficulty of trying to change it. He explained what would happen during the procedure and more than once asked me if I had any questions. He left me feeling so much better.

The medication to prepare for the procedure arrived as Raj had said through the post – how easy! And the instructions were easy to understand. However I really struggled to take it. It was awful but it worked.

On the day of my appointment my husband dropped me off and I was pointed to the department by the receptionist. I couldn’t find it straight away although it is clearly marked.  A lovely member of staff asked me if I wanted help as I looked lost and showed me to the door.

I was actually almost there but being nervous I missed the signs. The lady didn’t work in the department but had bothered to stop, that meant such a lot. Then I saw the receptionist of the department and a nurse, they were both brilliant and really put me at my ease. Then I met Raj who showed me to a bed and explained in detail how to prepare and   I was given disposable pants and a gown and a dressing gown.

I saw a doctor in a private room who checked my history and again asked if I had any questions.  They then took me into the treatment room. Everyone was kind and professional and my dignity was totally respected. I had a sedative and during the procedure was told what they were seeing on the screen and that they had found nothing unusual. I was congratulated on my preparation!  Then it was back to the bed area for a cup of tea and a biscuit. 

The cleaner asked me if I was warm enough and did I want a blanket, I had already been asked, but it was so kind of her. I told her that the place was spotless and how great she was at her job, she said she loved her job and all the team were very helpful.

I was given an evaluation form by Raj and loved that it asked if I had had “great” care – not “good enough” but “great”.  I love the aspiration.  Of course I did have “great” care. In fact it was such a good experience that I took the time to email the Chief Executive.

I met a neighbour a few weeks ago and she said she had a colonoscopy at Queen’s and was shocked at how good the experience it was. We exchanged notes and both agreed that Queen’s has improved so much.

So, thank you for all the wonderful improvements and the opportunity to share my experience.

A's story

In 2018, A was having fertility treatment at Bart’s Hospital and during the treatment she was diagnosed with Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. In early June 2018, Bart’s found that A had a build up of fluid in her abdomen which was a concern as she was pregnant. Bart’s made contact with Cornflower B ward at Queen’s Hospital and gave her a referral letter to come straight away through Emergency Department. A arrived at ED in a lot of pain and she didn’t have a very nice experience. On arrival, the reception staff were talking to each other. There was also a drunk man in the department who vomited on the floor prompting a nurse to come out and shout at him that he shouldn’t be in the department. A felt sad at seeing this. As a nurse in our hospital this is not something she wanted to see.

On a positive note, the triage nurse was very good and arranged for a porter to take A to the ward. On arrival on Cornflower B, there wasn’t a bed ready for A. She felt that she had no dignity or respect. While was sitting waiting for a bed she was still in a lot of pain. A nurse came over and introduced herself and tried to provide her with some reassurance. The nurse took A to see the doctor and she was then given a bed on the ward. Now A felt reassured and cared for and she no longer felt vulnerable. The ward team did not know that A worked at the Trust at this point.

By Saturday the fluid had built up and the ward said they needed to get it looked at. Within 20 minutes, the on-call doctor, Mr Cocker was at her bedside. He performed an ultrasound drainage on the ward instead of moving her to another department. He held her hand and reassured her that she would be ok. A felt that she was going to die. One of the ward nurses, Lettie, stayed with A throughout the procedure. She held her hand, kept reassuring her and did not leave A’s side throughout. Despite the ward being very busy, Lettie continued to keep checking on her. Whilst on the ward A found there was excellent communication. There was continuity with the doctors who came in the mornings and all the plans were productive and well explained. They did everything that they said that they would. The pain management was very good and consistent. The consent process was good and timely. Whenever there was a procedure there was female support already in place. Upon discharge A was given a leaflet which she found very helpful. Despite the situation, A fed back that she had a positive experience.

Having read the leaflet provided at discharge, A was aware that the fluid could build up again and this unfortunately happened the following week. Again A attended ED and this was a completely different experience from the previous week. There was a lady who was directing the flow of patients and it felt co-ordinated and in control. A much more positive experience.

Having received care from two different hospitals, A feels she had the best care here at Queen’s. The staff have really made a difference to her. Just smiling and following the “Hello, my name is… “ introduction principles made her feel that people cared. This created a much better environment for A during this difficult time.

Since her return to work at Queen’s, A has used her experiences as a learning tool with the staff on her wards. She is a great advocate of “Hello, my name is…” and has explained the principles and the impact it has on patients and relatives. The simple and effective steps make a big difference to how the patient feels and opens communication with patients is they need someone they can talk to.


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