NHS Patient Experience

Back injury

I was unfortunate enough to hurt my back at work in March 2019, or to be more precise the damage I had been doing to my back over the years accumulated to the point when my back cried – STOP! This is a short record of my NHS patient experience.

I bravely soldiered on for a few hours and then threw the cape away, stopped being a hero and went home. I called in sick the next day (Saturday) and rested over the weekend.


On Monday, unable to move the toes on my left foot, I made an appointment with my GP. He was very good, signed me off work for a week (he wanted to do more, but I would only get statutory sick pay so didn’t want to be off too long) and prescribed some pain relief.

He advised that if I had any numbness in other areas (I won’t expand where!) or felt things were getting worse, to go straight to the A&E. I rested for the week and went back to work on arranged ‘light duties’. At the end of the first day I didn’t feel too bad, had a hot bath and went to bed.


In the morning I was unable to flex my foot upwards at the ankle and my back was once more telling me something. I phoned in to work and took myself to A&E. Being around 8.30am it was fairly quiet with only a few patients waiting. I didn’t have to wait too long for triage who took some history and details of the problem.

Back in the waiting room it wasn’t a long wait before I was called to see the Doctor. Quick recap and examination and decision made that a scan would be needed. Call to orthopaedics to get the ok to book the scan and I was taken to a cubicle. Given a gown to get into (not easy!) then a nurse checked details, attached id bracelet and took general observations, temperature, pulse and blood pressure. Took bloods and inserted a cannula at same time.

Orthopaedic registrar came and assessed me and agreed that an MRI was needed. I was taken into a different cubicle to wait for the MRI. In the new cubicle the nurse who would be looking after me introduced themselves and checked all of my details and got me a cup of tea.

After about an hour the nurse said the MRI had been booked for later in the morning and someone from imaging would be round to explain what would be happening and check on my weight etc.

They duly arrived and told me they would be back to collect me at a certain time. This they did, I was taken to the MRI, went through the scanner and was taken back to the cubicle. The orthopaedic doctor came round to check everything was ok and to say they were just waiting the results of the MRI.

By this time it was lunchtime and the nurse got me a sandwich and another cup of tea. Orthopaedics said they had got the results and were just taking a look, (apparently there was quite a list!)

MRI results

Shortly after lunch I was given the results – listed below:

  • Multilevel spondylosis and facet joint arthropathy.
  • 6mm spinal synovial cyst seen at L4/5 on the right side
  • Multilevel disc desiccation and decreased disc height in keeping with degenerative disc disease, most pronounced at L1/2 and L4-S1
  • New modic type 1 changes are seen at L3/4
  • At L1/2 there is a broad based posterior disc bulge indenting the thecal sac, obvious neural compromise is present
  • At L4/5 there is a paramedian disc protrusion indenting the thecal sac and impinging upon the exiting right L4 nerve root
  • At L5/S1 there is a posterior broad based disc bulge which together with the endplate osteophytosis and facet arthrosis significantly narrows the neural foramina, more on the right side
  • The disc bulge impinges upon the exiting L5 nerve root on the right side

I just had to wait whilst they contacted the local spinal hospital for their opinion. This did take a couple of hours but eventually they replied that I should be referred to the local spinal triage. All in all I left the hospital at around 5.30pm. During that time every member of staff was unfailingly polite and helpful, amazing service.

A couple of observations

Whilst the staff were amazing, the politics and procedures involved in communicating with other departments was ludicrous. The referral to spinal triage (in the same hospital) would need to be done by my GP, the A&E and Orthopaedics were not able to do it. So, make an appointment with my GP to get him to refer me to spinal triage!

Also to get the MRI booked the A&E doctor contacted the orthopaedic SHO to get the go ahead. The SHO said they weren’t able to do this, it needed to be done by the registrar. So call the registrar who said it didn’t need to go through them, it should go through the SHO. So, another call back to the SHO and finally got it organised!

It is the internal policies and politics that seemed to bottle neck progress and was the one thing the staff commented about on numerous occasions. There has to be a message there, I guess the people making the policies aren’t (or won’t) listen.

On the whole the treatment I received was excellent and can’t praise the staff highly enough. In fact I wrote an email to the Trust to ask them to pass on my thanks, to which I got a nice reply promising to pass my thanks on to the relevant departments.

I just thought it would be nice to show that in my experience NHS staff are caring, professional and human. Pretty good qualities in my book. I know there will be people who have had an awful time but I can only speak for myself and hope that if people have had a poor experience they were isolated cases.

Do you have an NHS Patient Experience?

Please get in touch with your experiences – good or bad. Let’s celebrate the good and together discover solutions for the bad. Things will never improve if we do not discuss issues and talk to the right people about solutions, let’s make it happen!

Thank you for reading.

Justin – founder of Twitway

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