The shameful way ME sufferers are still being treated by Mahboob Khamsehee

You might have read some articles I've written in past kickbacks. Well I recently had the most awful experience after all these years with ME. I went to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on Thursday 22nd November 2001 for my eye check-up. And my usual consultant wasn't there, she was off sick. So another doctor, a young doctor, saw me. I was kept waiting for almost two hours.

By the time I walked into the room I had lost my energy and I could hardly keep my eyes open, my speech was slurred, and he sat me on a high chair. I said no, I can't sit in this chair I need a lower chair, and he then kept me waiting another five or ten minutes talking on the phone to another patient. At the same time there was another doctor in the room with a very old lady, and I guess she must have been deaf or blind because the doctor was talking at the top of his voice.

Anyway this doctor pulled his chair towards me but there was a big distance between us and I couldn't hear him and he couldn't hear me. So I said to him "could you please bring your chair forward I cannot hear you". Then with a very jumpy, abrupt voice, he said to me "you look down in the dumps, what's the matter are you depressed, I think you are depressed" I was so taken aback that I just couldn't say anything. Then I immediately said no I'm not depressed, no I don't have depression, I've lost my energy, my old consultant doesn't keep me waiting but you've kept me waiting for two hours and so I don't have any energy, and then again I've come here for my eyes, I don’t think its got anything to do with you what else is wrong with me. And don't insult me. He said no, I'm not insulting you but its part of my job to tell people if they are depressed. I again said no, I'm not depressed.

So he said OK what's wrong with you, I said well haven't you read my notes, he said no I haven't, I said I saw you reading the letters for the past five minutes or so. He said no, you tell me. I said OK I've got ME, I've got Fibromyalgia, I've got osteo-arthritis, I've got Osteoporosis. He said whom do you see. I told him the various clinics, the Rheumatology, the Orthopeadic clinic. I have a knee problem that needs operating on but I'm told I'm not well enough to have the anaesthetic. I'm also having an ear operation in December. Then he said OK if you tell me your not depressed, you're not depressed. I said well its nothing to do with you. Its up to me to decide whether I'm depressed or not and go to see my GP, and tell my GP doctor I can't sleep, I can't eat I've lost weight and I cry all the time and its nothing to do with you. He said obviously you know all the signs of depression, OK you don’t have it, but that it was his job to point out if people were depressed or they could go out and commit suicide. I said besides do I look depressed to you, I showed him my nails all nicely painted, my new short haircut and make-up "do I look depressed". And he said well you are very angry. I said no I'm not angry but I am not depressed don't insult anyone else do you know anything about ME he said well ME doesn't exist and er ME is depression and I said well go and get yourself educated doctor, do you want to examine my eyes or not that’s what I'm here for he said OK.

He looked at my eyes and said oh my god oh my god they are very bad, I said the medication I have been given for the past couple of years have been no good, I've been allergic to all of them, and I showed him a new ointment I wanted to try. He said no, I can't give you any medication you better see your usual consultant! I said does that mean you haven't got any authority to prescribe medication. He said no, he had authority but preferred I saw my usual consultant. I said in that case why have you wasted my time if you didn't want to treat me. Besides I was supposed to have all the eye examinations in the other room, he said I know but I'd rather your usual consultant did it.

Then I got up and said I'm sorry I can't talk to you and I walked out. Then I saw the Sister and said who's the person in charge of complaints, I know that all hospitals have such a person. She said I could give her the information. I said are you this person, she said well no. Then she referred me to the 'patients advisor', a very kind person who listened to my complaint, making detailed notes and said that this matter will be dealt with very seriously. I told her that he was rude, condescending and patronising. She said obviously there are witnesses, I said, surely they aren’t going to take my side, they are going to take his side. She said don't worry this will be seen to, and at the least he would be made to apologise. And then I got up to leave then went back to the room again and said, and said I just wanted to add after 12 years of being ill I don't have to convince any member of the medical profession, she said exactly, you are absolutely right.

I just wished I hadn't been suffering from brain fog at the time and could have reacted more immediately, if I was more alert I would have said, you have made me worse, now you've depressed me, now I'm depressed, I wasn't before I came here. No wonder those patients commit suicide because of your opinions.

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Update: A week later Mahboob received the following letter from the hospital executive:

Dear Ms. Khamsehee

I am writing further to your visit to the eye department yesterday and relating to your complaint. I'm sorry that you have had reason to complain and we will investigate the issues you have raised in line with NHS complaint guidelines, the Chief Executive will endeavour to provide you with a full response within 20 working days. If for any reason she is unable to meet this date I will write to inform you of this and the reason of the delay. This is a very important matter. I enclose a copy of the NHS leaflet that provides guidance about the complaints procedure, in the meantime if you wish to discuss your concerns further please do not hesitate to contact myself or my colleague in the patients advisors office.

Yours truly

Patients Liaison Manager

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