If anyone is interested this is the final text of my complaint, which was supported by copies of my letters to Dr. Newall in March and April, which he has ignored. It’s broadly similar to the published draft – just a little more detailed, and stroppier!
Complaints Dept. Arrowe Park Hospital, Arrowe Park Road, Upton, Wirral, CH49 5PE
May 22 2012
Further to our exchange of emails, I am writing to complain in the strongest possible terms about cardiologist Dr. Nick Newall, whose comprehensive neglect is putting my health, if not my life, in grave danger. Where, in his contract, does it say that doing nothing to treat a seriously, probably terminally, ill patient is even remotely acceptable?
I have been diagnosed with aortic valve calcification and stenosis, and heart failure. Dr. Newall appears to think the cause of the heart failure is a mystery. I feel my severe COPD, and the aortic valve problem, are explanation enough – either or both can cause heart failure. I was told by my GP years ago that I was showing early signs of Cor pulmonale.
According to the literature – in the absence of proper medical care the literature is all I have – given my symptom set, the aortic valve problem is likely to prove fatal within 2 years, and I am at least 16 months in (opinions vary somewhat, but 2 years is a good enough working average; much longer is unlikely). My COPD, of course, does nothing to improve my prospects. I put this to Dr. Newall in January; he didn’t disagree.
That I have to die before my time is bad enough. That my end is likely to be hastened by the staggering incompetence of Dr. Newall is totally unacceptable.
(NB: My heart failure was first diagnosed while I was an in-patient in January last year – unfortunately, some other inept moron failed to record it in my records, a copy of which I have. Around 100 pages to cover 4 days, and mostly a work of fiction. They are a damned disgrace.)
After my appointment With Dr. Newall in January, I wrote to him, pulling out of a test he had planned because I felt it was too dangerous (catheterisation of the left ventricle, via the defective aortic valve carries a 24% risk of stroke, a risk I considered too great).
By the way, Dr. Newall – or maybe it’s APH policy – fails to grasp the concept of “informed consent” when it comes to risky diagnostic procedures. That really is not acceptable at all.
I was forced to write again, shortly afterwards, and cancel a batch of tests he’d scheduled (I also missed a couple – it’s impossible for me to know in advance what I’m going to be capable of on any given day, and mostly it turns out to be nothing).
He responded by saying, in his letter of March 7, that when I felt up to it “we’ll try and revisit the situation”. I wrote back saying I was willing to try, but I was subject to quite severe constraints, which govern what I can and cannot do, and when I can do them – in a nutshell, on the best of days I have only a narrow window of opportunity, around the middle of the day and, if I have to go out, it can take me up to 4 hours to get ready. I also explained that this had been so for many years, and was clearly not going to change.
There was much more, but a copy of the letter is attached, so there is no point in my reiterating it all here.
I got no response to that.
I wrote again on May 7. My letters to him have been faxed to his office – lost in the post is never going to work as an excuse.
I explained, again at length, that I was deteriorating, and I had no choice to assume, from his silence, that neither he, nor APH – or both – had any interest in complying with the terms of the Equality Act of 2010, and that they had no intention of even trying to accommodate my disabilities (outside of my flat I am a full-time powerchair user, as I’m now too weak to use my manual chair – I would be inside my flat too, but it’s too small), and that he was leaving me no alternative but to seek legal advice.
Needless to say, that was ignored too, but believe me when I say that, if this letter fails to elicit a favourable response, I shall have no hesitation in doing just that.
I have a condition which is, by all accounts, fatal, and which is mostly untreated, thanks to Dr. Newall shirking his responsibilities.
Even without his tests – about the usefulness of which, to me, I am extremely dubious, even were I well enough to submit to them which I manifestly am not – there is plenty of scope for Dr. Newall to medicate my condition; he is, after all, a physician, not a surgeon, and according to your website that is exactly what he is supposed to do, and is failing utterly.
I also enquired of Dr, Newall about the results of the various tests he’d had done in January. Of course, I’m no wiser.
I have not been discharged from Dr. Newall’s clinic (I almost said “care” but that would stretch the truth beyond breaking point), so as far as I am concerned he is still my cardiologist of record.
I need him – or, probably better, another cardiologist who actually cares about his or her patients – to attend to my needs. And soon, before it’s too late. My life is painful and dismal; that I can deal with, but I deeply resent that it should be needlessly shortened through one man’s neglect.
The bottom line is that it’s been 11 weeks since I heard anything at all from him, 4 months since I saw him, and during all that time my condition has continued to deteriorate, and about that nobody is doing – or even trying to do – anything at all.
And in case it is already too late (the literature says I probably have the rest of this year, but such a prediction is far from being an exact science), be advised that everything pertaining to this disgraceful farce, up to and including this letter, has been published on my blog. Newall can ignore me, and I might die too soon because of that, but by God I shall ensure that as many people as possible know why. Including the press, if need be.
Ronald W. Graves.
PS There is another letter, detailing my medical history (APH managed to lose 40 years of my records in the mid 80s, and I have no idea how complete they are now – I know some were recovered, as for quite a while there were two files circulating, which might or might not have been merged). I haven’t included it because of its length, but if you wish a copy for completeness, please email me.