…these are the signs you quite often see displayed in various NHS establishments.  Next time I walk into one particular establishment I will be wearing a sign that says “Rude staff with zero empathy or customer focus will not be treating me today!”

What gives these ‘so-called’ professionals the right to make such a statement, when today, and not for the first time, I experienced first hand from a “so-called’ professional, behaviour that seems to be more increasingly an ‘essential’ for fulfilling such roles.  No customer service, unfriendly, rude and for this particular individual “allergic to Essex” her words not mine!  There was certainly a lack of professional behaviour on display today – maybe it was “leave your customer service at home day” and I missed the press release?

Today was my 21 week scan.  I had spent the last few days feeling rather quite anxious about the whole thing and had started the day feeling a little emotional, although quite pleased that I was still only 8lbs on at this stage; this was short lived!

My appointment was at the Broomfield Maternity Unit in Chelmsford at 11.20am.  We were running a few minutes behind, but were confident we would just make it if I jumped out while Mark parked the car.  I rushed up to 4th floor and arrived at the reception desk at 11.22am, by their clock – to be greeted by no-one; the reception desk was empty!  I stood and waited and 2 minutes later Mark arrived, 11.24.  We both waited and about 11.30 one of the sonographers came out and asked if we were being seen to, to which we replied “no”.  She said “Don’t worry, ######*, will be with you shortly, she has just had to step away from the desk”.  We continued to wait and just before 11.35am, ######*, arrived back, no apology for keeping us waiting and asked for my name, which I gave her and she told us take a seat.

She then dealt with a phone call for a few minutes, and conferred with another member of staff – who later turned out to be our sonographer – about a lady who was on a trolley and needed to be seen to.  Her colleague then went of to confer with someone else.  ######*, then called over to us and asked me my name again, it seemed at this point she entered me onto the system, the time now being way past 11.35am.  The colleague returned to ######* and said something about someone else dealing with the lady, and went back through to the examination rooms.  She then returned and called my name, it is now almost 11.40am.

As Mark and I entered the room she said “is there a reason you were 15 minutes late?  Was there a problem with parking?” I was a little taken aback and replied “Oh, we were a minute or so late, I got here about 11.22am? “no you didn’t” she replied, “I was waiting in reception for you at that time”.  Mark jumped in at this point and said “well, I arrived a couple of minutes after Sarah, and I arrived at 11.24 – so we were only a couple of minutes late”.  She didn’t make any response and told me to get on the couch.

She made no attempt to be friendly or make me feel at ease, to her it seemed I was just another name on the system.  She offered no real explanation to what she was doing, but did ask if wanted to find out the sex and pointed out her measuring the head and stomach.  Mark asked a question, which was met with a short sharp answer and when I tried to say something to lighten the atmosphere, there was, again, no response.  She did apologise for sniffing alot and after saying it was hayfever said “actually, I think it’s Essex I am allergic to”.

She seemed to have no real trouble in getting the information she needed, or at least never made any reference to any difficulties, other than when it came to the heart, face and sex as the baby was facing my back so it was hard to see.  She asked me to go to the toilet and move around a bit to see if this made any difference, which I did.  I returned to the couch and she carried on with her assessment, she seemed to get what she needed – and verbally confirmed that from what she had seen that everything looked ok.  When it came to the sexing part, she did it so quickly that I have no confidence in what she told us, and she barely seemed interested either.  To be honest I could not wait for it to be over.

We paid for our picture and she handed us the report.  As I made my way to another of the receptions to make another ante-natal appointment, I glanced at the report and staring right back at me was the following text “TECHNICALLY DIFFICULT SCAN AND SUBOPTIMAL ULTRASOUND VIEWS DUE TO INCREASED PATIENT BMI”  I had to read it several times.  At no time throughout the examination had she made any reference to any ‘difficulties’ other than the baby facing the wrong way to get a good view of the heart and face, or indeed any mention of my size.  She might as well have written “PATIENT WAS TOO FAT TO GET A GOOD PICTURE”.

I know I’m not skinny, I’ve been telling myself that for the last 20 years, AND I’m already conscious that I am heavier than where I want to be – something I have mentioned in previous posts.

Was a statement like that really necessary, when she seemed to think that everything was ok? Or was this the catch all statement “well, I think everything is ok, but because I couldn’t really see properly, then I’m actually not really sure?  So if anything actually turns out to be wrong, then I am not responsible” – what am I to think – is everything ok or not? Is the sex you gave us right or not? Why put it on there, what was the point? What did it mean? Was it because you believed we were late and you thought this was pay back?

What if I was mentally unstable or had weight issues?  She had no idea.  These comments certainly made me feel that all my good efforts of only an 8lb gain were pointless.  What should have been an exciting day, has actually turned out to be completely the opposite.

So today, #### ##########*, I am naming and shaming you and the receptionist ######* for your unprofessional behaviour, lack of empathy & customer service, your apparent lack of passion for what you do, jumping to conclusions and rude behaviour.  You have not only let me down, but the rest of your customers, your NHS Trust and for what you represent.

Yours in speaking out…

Sarah xXx





*NB – 16.08pm Thursday 21 February.  I have made the choice to redact the names of the individuals involved following a personal call, to Mark from Peter Davis, Clinical Director at Broomfield Hospital.  After an apology he made a personal plea to Mark , that he ask me to consider doing this.  Whilst, I stick by my original reason for including these, and my risk assessment in terms of breaching any laws that govern my doing so, I have made my point and as a gesture of goodwill to Peter Davis, I have made the redaction.  I will however, reserve the right to reinstate this information at any given time.  I will be penning an open letter to Peter Davis in response to his phone call.