We open each of our Governing Body meetings with a patient story. This opportunity to hear about the experience of our patients and service users and ensures that the commissioning decisions we make have real people at the heart of them.
Hartshead resident John Laville, suffers from atrial fibrillation, where his heart’s rhythm becomes disrupted for a period of time. This disruption is very unpleasant to experience and, if not treated quickly, can have serious consequences for his health.
In the past, when John experienced symptoms, he had to go to hospital to have his heart checked using an electrocardiogram (ECG).
Now, thanks to a move to bring more care closer to home, John was recently able to have blood tests and an ECG in his GP practice. The results of the test were available within a matter of hours, and thankfully, confirmed that he was fit and well.
John said: “I was impressed by the thoroughness of my GP practice. What better can you have; it’s easy, local and I don’t have to travel to hospital for these tests. A great use of technology and resources; a very good experience”.
By increasing the range of services available close to home, we are supporting more people to live independently and reduce the need for a hospital admission. For those who do need to spend time in hospital, better community services will help to speed up the discharge process too.
“Having had mental illness from a very young age (my first doctors visit was at 8 years old), school was sometimes very difficult. As I grew older, it was just the norm, I didn’t know any different, and to me this was how life was.
I became a mum at the age of 18. The depression grew stronger as I grew older and had more responsibilities. I was 20 when I started on medication. It was just antidepressants to start with and some counselling at the GP surgery once a month. It carried on for another five years until after my second child was born and then the depression really took hold.
By the time my third child was born things just began to get too much. The medication was increased and I was referred to see a psychiatrist. I ended up as an inpatient at one point too.
Having been on medication (21 tablets a day) for nearly 25 years, I knew that this was my life. I even asked the psychiatrist if I would ever be medication free and he said no, I would be on them for the rest of my life. At this point I had tried everything going, psychology, psychiatry, nurses, and counselling. Nothing seemed to make much of a difference.
In 2012 I started an art for wellbeing class. This was to be the best thing that had ever happened in my life. In two and half years my life has been totally transformed. I have been medication free for 16 months, I do inspirational talks about my life, I have three very proud children who now call me their role model (at times they were my carers!).
In May 2014 I went to Buckingham Palace to have tea with the Queen in her garden. Who would have thought that a bit of drawing would change my life so much. It’s more than drawing, its confidence building, its sociable, its empowering! I now have a life and after 43 years of existing, I now live that life.”
Debs has been attending art classes provided by the Creative Minds project. For more information visit their website.
Paul Kane is a local councillor in Dewsbury and the deputy mayor for Kirklees. After several visits to the GP and two ECG tests which did not show any abnormalities, Paul was still feeling unwell. In March his GP referred him to the new ambulatory day care unit at Dewsbury and District Hospital where, after an initial examination an x-ray revealed he had an enlarged heart and a build-up of fluid. He was immediately given a procedure to drain the fluid and was admitted to the Coronary Care Unit. The following day, a scan showed that he had further fluid in another part of his body.
The junior registrar who attended Paul was unable to immediately diagnosis his condition, but advised him that it may be a sign of cancer. This was extremely distressing for Paul and his family.
After more tests, Paul was informed that he did not have cancer and the heart enlargement condition was successfully treated.
Paul feels that the rapid testing and treatment of his condition was excellent and probably saved his life. This had been made possible as a result of his GP referring him to the ambulatory day care unit. However Paul felt that the registrar who mentioned cancer was premature and this caused a lot of anxiety for both Paul and his family. He praised those involved in his care and asked others to learn lessons from his experience.