Experience in hospital

I work with the public, I consider myself, friendly, helpfull, polite, well spoken and approachable. Im from the old school…the customer is always right.

I went into hospital to have my lump and some lymphnodes removed.

All I can say is…it was one of the most awful experiences I have ever had.

I will not tell you which hospital I was in but I found the nurses rude, unpleasant, uninformed, noisy and I’m sorry to say lazy.

I was admitted on Tuesday afternoon…and had all my pre-op tests, the only thing I asked for (politely) was…something to help me sleep. I was told I would be given a sleeping pill…Im still waiting for it.

I was next morning told “the doctor was too busy to administer a pill”…I had been wide awake at that point for 48 hours.

I had my op on Wednesday morning at 8.30am…I was given a private room, and apart from having my blood pressure taken twice and a ghastly non-descript lunch brought to me…I was left until 3pm without anyone coming to see me to tell me how the operation had gone.

I decided to try and find someone to get some information.

I went to the nurses room where they were all nattering away in very loud voices. I asked politely if someone could tell me when I could go home, please could I have a painkiller, and how did the op go?

My god…it was like pulling teeth…I was given THAT LOOK…you know the one…eyes pointing to heavens…a big sigh…the nurse pulled herself out of her chair…as if I’d asked her to something really difficult.

Eventually I got my painkiller…a letter to give to my doctor and she said the surgeon would talk to me before I left.

The surgeon came to see me and told me everything went ok…

He told me he had removed the lump, my sentinal lymphnode and wait for it…“some other bits and pieces”

I asked if he knew what kind of cancer it was (grade) and he said…and I quote…“what do you want to know that for?” I said…(by this time my face was starting to flush as I felt a fool for asking, and I could feel tears rising)
“Well I was just wondering how invasive it was” he looked at me straight in the face and said…“all cancer is invasive”.

At that point I thought “keep your mouth shut” and get home as quickly as possible.

On the way back in the car, I told the person who was driving me home what he had said…and they thought it was ‘APPAULING’.

When I read the forums in here, almost everyone seems so well informed.

Ive learnt more in here than from anyone Ive spoken to at the hospital (my bc nurse is nice…but she does that sympathetic voice thing, and has the sad eyes. I can’t really speak to her).

I know I have to go back for more treatment…but Im really not looking forward to it.

I live on my own…this is a difficult enough time…without being made to feel like a fool.

Anyone else had a similar problem?


Hi Woodlark

My surgery was 16 months ago but I remember not being impressed with the nurses!

I had calf pumps after my op which had to come off every time I wanted to walk to the toilet. I was told to take them on and off myself! When the Sister came round the next morning, she said that they werent on properley, and was shocked to realise I had been told to do it myself, she said you need specialist training!

I remember after my op wanting to go to the toilet and not being able to go. I was told that I didnt really need to go and was imagining it. Later I learnt that the anaesthetic shuts everything down and thats why I couldnt go!

I found them quite rude too.

Hi Lolly73

Im sorry to hear about your experience, you would think that in this day and age the ‘hospital experience’ should be as stressfree as possible.

I only spoke to a couple of ladies during my stay (they were in for different surgery) and both of them were pretty much of the same opinion.

Lets face it…the majority of people in hospital don’t ask much (well I certainly don’t) We assume we are going to get the best possible treatment.

To be honest a friendly face and maybe a little bit of humour wouldn’t go amiss.

I hope your experiences in hospital (if you have to go back) improves.

Best of luck

Woodlark xx

Im going back in on Thurs to have ovaries removed, but if all goes ok then this will only be day surgery thankfully!!

Ah woodlark i think thats totally rubbish. I am a midwife in my local hospital and wojld be ashamed to ever treat someone like that. My experience in hospital was positive mainly because the nurse looking after me had had BC ten years before and had been throughh it all. She sat with me and chatted. Such a fluke and so great for me.
Poor you in a rubbish time getting rubbish nurses. Leave the bloody profession if you no longer care about people i say!

Hope you are recovering as well as can be.


I totally agree with you - the communications skills of most doctors and nurses are very poor. If you say you are in pain you are questioned as if you are lying. Nurses can’t prescribe painkillers so it means they have to find a doctor. You can be left for long periods of time in extreme pain.

I remember spending christmas in hospital after my op. I was told it had to take place on 19 Dec to meet “government targets”. I said what would happen if I developed complications. This was poo pooed.

On Christmas Eve I was readmitted. The few nurses who were there over christmas seemed to think it was an imposition and one night I was treated to listening to the one on duty having several hours conversation with a bloke she was chatting up. Eventually I got up with the drip stand I was connected to and went over to try and get some action so I could be disconnected from it. It was 2 in the morning. She scarcely drew breath, disconnected me and left me to get on with it, back to my bed.

When I read the notes of my care in hospital it said I was able to look after myself. Good thing


I’m sorry to hear you have had such a horrible experience at such a bad time! i had only praise for the staff, all of them at the hospital i was in and still going for treatment (The Marsden in Sutton)they were caring, had time for a chat, all staff have kept me and my husband informed.

hope it gets better for you!
love debs xxx

I am sorry that you had to experience this dreadful treatment,I was not impressed when I went in to have my lump and nodes removed either,I had my sister with me thank goodness and only saw a nurse when I had to walk to the operating room!!
I thought I was going home the same day but started to bleed from the wound and stayed overnight and didnt see a nurse once to check on me.
Next am saw the consultant who said I could go home then spent 6 hours waiting for the venflon to be taken out.I was glad to get home.

I must say that the chemo unit and the cancer ward that I was admitted into twice were fantastic.

I hope you dont have this uncaring attitude again and hopefully take someone with you.

Good Luck and Take Care
Jackie xx

Woodlark I have had a bad experience in an NHS hospital as a private patient and also as a private patient in a private hospital. I will PM you later and I think you should name and shame the hospital because people should be warned about poor care in hospitals and they should also complain through the correct route and receive an apology - I did and then was told later of change they were making to avoid it happening again in the future for other patients.

They have a duty of care to us; I feel a duty of care to those following me.

More later …


Hi Woodlark

That’s a terrible experience. I had my op in a private hospital - where I’ve had several ops for various things over the past few years - and found the standard of nursing care has gone down. Immediately after the operation I was checked on regularly, but when disconnected from a drip I saw a nurse once. Like you I couldn’t sleep at night and suffered terrible night sweats but the nurses didn’t seem bothered.

I asked several times about being discharged and in the end walked to the nurses station where I found my letters weren’t even ready - although I’d been assured I could leave an hour before.

My friend works at the hospital and was taking me home and if she hadn’t arrived and chased up my letters and drugsI would probably still be waiting!

HAving said that the breast care nurses were wonderful - one even came and sat with me while I had the wire inserted. My surgeon checked up on me several times too. The chemo unit and the nurses there were great too - it just seems to be the nurses on the ward where the problem is.

I was given a questionnaire when I left to comment on my stay - perhaps your hospital do this too?

I too had not the best of times in hospital.
From inital stages and pre op and into recovery all went well not sure how much of that is that they all knew I was a sick kids nurse in a very full on intensive care unit or not.

Then I had my post op in the ward.

Well of all the nursing staff I encountered I would say only 2 possibly 3 were of any use. The night staff in perticular were rude, unprofessional, lazey and to be honest bl**dy usless.

1st night I asked for pain killers ‘oh your not written up for any’ total lie (I do know how to read a drug chart!) I was written up for morphine but knew none of them were trained to give it intravenousely (and no way did I want one of those idiots giving me an IM injection), was going to get me something, yeh right fortunately I had own pain killers in bag which I gave myself and informed the whole ward on ward round what I’d had and at what times Pain killers were soon sorted!

As to my IV infusion well lets just say I managed that myself too!

The other thing that distressed me was how they treated the other patients took a week for a nurse with a brain to organise a review of one ladys hearing aid, but no one seamed to know how to talk to or treat her properly.
Plus another young lady who was needle phobic no idea how to treat her, I did distraction therapy with her and she was fine.

I couldnt wt too leave and to be honest if any of the girls/boys I work with or mentor was even half as bad as the ones I met in the adult ward they would be under review and very likely job hunting fast.

All very well the collages wanting nurses to have degrees but I think a degree of common sense and compassion should also be a necessity.

I also think that doctors in adult settings should be made to expalin things in more depth, and not hide behind medical jargon.

Rant over (for now)
g x

It is distressing to have a bad hospital experience. I’ve found my experiences very mixed. Surgeons have been great but the nursing staff variable.

As an ex nurse myself I know what should be done. Attitude is everything and I often wonder why some nurses are in the job they are when clearly all they want to do is go home.

What I would advise is to ensure that the surgeon (or one of the team) has written you up for pain killers before the surgery. For example, when you go for pre assessment. Ideally you should have various things written up so you have a choice. It is also important to be written up for something other than just tablets in case the pain is severe.

It is frankly inexcusable for the surgeon not to give you details of the operation. Was this the consultant? When you have your outpatient appointment I would ask again. He probably couldn’t answer your question at the time because the tissue removed during surgery would be sent for analysis. He should have explained that.

Hope you’re feeling lots better and you have better treatment in the future.
Elinda x

Thank you all for your feedback. Isn’t it awful that some of our experiences have been so negative.

I should add that in the main I have been treated well, the ladies who gave me my MRI and the breast cancer nurse have been great. It was just the stay in hospital that was so disappointing.

I must add that the lady he took me to theatre and the chap who was at my side when I awoke were very good (I had terrible shakes when I woke up and he stayed at my side until they stopped, seemingly this is more common with men than woman…it was a bit distressing).

Elinda…thank you for your reply, and yes, it was the surgeon. He has been a bit patronising throughout. He say’s “have you any questions” and then when you ask he says “why do you want to know that”. It makes you feel totally stupid.

Bearing in mind, four weeks ago I knew nothing about breast cancer.
I do have questions to ask. If it wasn’t for this site I would be at a loss.

Thank you for your replies ladies xxxxxxx

When the surgeon asks why you want to know I would say that you find it helpful to have the information so you can understand what is going on with your body and that ignorance is not bliss. It is incredibly patronising of him to think otherwise. I don’t know if you have used the helpline at all but they are a fantastic source of information and they’ve asked quite a few questions for me.
take care
Elinda x

When I was in the hospital isolation at the end of chemo (due to my immune system packing up and a chemo burn to the back of my hand) I found their was no continuity during the night. The nightshift was largely made up of agency nurses and there were different staff every night. There was a actually one I found quite creepy as she seemed to have a very unhealthy interest in the fact I had BC; she kept asking strange questions relating to it which I found quite unnerving. I asked one of the day shift nurse why it was like that and she just shrugged and said because nobody wanted to do the nightshifts. The lack of continuity concerned me from the point of view they were dealing with a lot of leukaemia and blood cancer patients who were very, very poorly.

I always thought shiftwork went with the territory if you were working in a hospital so I was quite taken aback by this. One of the senior nurses admitted that they had to get things sorted out as the management had told them they were spending way too much money on agency staff. I didn’t actually realise you could refuse to work certain shifts if you were a hospital professional.

Or hospitals getting worse or have we just been unfortunate?? I had such a bad time I signed myself out after three days and went back daily at first to be drained.
Luckily I phoned first on the day I was to be admitted else I could have been sitting in the corridore for 8hrs waiting on a bed(like the woman next to me) My sister had to take me shopping for the day while I waited on a phonecall from them.(I’d been given my date 4wks previous…and I’d had to wait 4wks before that for my mammogram!) I wasnt told until the morning of the op that I would be having an auxillary clearance.When I asked the surgeon why I was told ‘Because thats what we’re doing’!I’d hardly seen my bc nurse since my dx let alone been given the results of my scans- and I havn’t seen much of her since either! I couldn’t even have a pre med because they were ‘pushed for time’,
When the elderly woman opposite knocked over a vase of flowers there was no one in sight to clean it up.Eventually I went into the sluce got a dirty sheet out and mopped it up with that.The nurses didn’t bat an eyelid when they seen me finishing the job- and I was still attached to my drip!The same lady asked for a pain killer in the middle of the night and was told that she shouldnt be there and there was nothing wrong with her.Next morning I told her what I’d overheard and and put a complaint in.I couldn’t wait to get out of the place.

josyemarie…your hospital sounds like mine…grim !

I wasn’t very impressed either, I went in for a mastectomy and LD reconstruction, so I was in for a week. I had 3 drains and when the side of the bed was put down after surgery they were trapped in the side and I couldn’t move. I couldn’t reach the buzzer and I was in my own room so no one to ask, it was the middle of the night so didn’t like to shout,when someone eventually came I was made to feel it was my fault. When I asked a question I felt as though I was being a nuisance, it was just before Christmas and I’m sure the nurses were doing their shopping on the Internet so I don’t suppose they wanted to be interrupted?

If only they took the time and trouble to explain things, we wouldn’t have to ask so much.


Am so sorry to read of some of your terrible experiences. The answer is…move to North Wales! I can’t begin to tell you what a great time I had at Llandudno hospital. All started off with an excellent surgeon who likes to keep his ladies in til they have their drains out. I was lucky in that only had a WLE and SNB but was still in for four days, two other ladies on the ward could have gone home a day earlier than me but asked to stay another day.
We joked that it was more like a special sort of hotel,breakfast in bed, fantastic home cooked 3 course lunches and dinners served up to us in a dayroom. All the nursing staff couldn’t do enough for us, the whole place was so clean, I couldn’t believe my luck !

I am sure that my experience there totally helped im my recovery and I made a great friend who had the same op as me. Sent the staff and surgeon a letter of thanks and a huge hamper of goodies as thanks for their fatastic treatment,can’t thank them enough for making a not very nice experience a more than bearable one, it did help that the other 3 women on my ward were a bunch of nutters too ,people thought it very strange when asking how was the hospital to be told that I had a great time and hadn’t laughed so much for ages !

Sandra x

I too can identify with so much that others have written here. I trained as a nurse (a good few years ago) at a London teaching hospital - but apart from v. brief admissions when I had my children, I’d never been an in- patient until diagnosed with BC last June. I only had lumpectomy and SNB (and a 2nd admission 3 weeks later for WLE) - but found the whole hospital experience totally alienating.

It is all down to the ward sister/ charge nurse and if they are not on the ball - and demonstrating what real nursing care is all about, then the junior staff won’t learn- & it will just be a matter of luck if you happen to be treated with respect and dignity by the staff. There just seems to have been a complete change in attitude to the patients since I trained; the nurses seemed to spend a great deal of time sitting at the nurses’ station or standing talking around it with their backs to the ward- and actually resisting making contact with the patients except when doling out the drugs, taking temps etc. etc. Not much TLC around these days I’m afraid- and the chemo nurses were the worst!

It pains me to say it but with one or two really excellent exceptions, I was treated much better & certainly with more courtesy by the medical staff and the radiotherapy staff than by the nurses. I did make formal complaints and was interviewed by 2 of the new ‘matrons’ who gave me a lot of PC answers & platitudes about NICE and staff ratios. They assured me that they were distressed by my complains (as they so rarely ever had any…!) but I did get it in writing that they would raise the issues I high-lighted, in the appropriate quarters.
I think things are usually worse in the big hospitals as I have heard glowing reports from smaller units. But wherever it happens, if we are not treated properly, I do think we should all speak out more instead of just moaning to our friends and relations and putting up with it. It is OUR NHS and it is costing us all a bomb in taxes- so we should give praise when it’s due - and complain when it is below standard.