Patient testimonial: “At every stage, I had my questions answered before I’d even asked them”
24th August 2020
When Oliver sustained multiple leg fractures playing football he made the decision to have surgery at St John & St Elizabeth Hospital despite not having a private healthcare policy.
As he starts his recovery from home, we caught up to discuss why he made the decision to use our Hospital and how the patient journey worked for him.
Aged 41, I probably should have known better than to play football, but I wasn’t expecting what happened next. I jumped up in the air for the ball, landed awkwardly and saw my ankle snap. It later transpired that I’d suffered multiple fractures in my right lower leg. I spent an hour on the pitch, my foot facing the wrong way, waiting for an ambulance to attend the scene. I was more in shock than anything.
I was taken to Northwick Park Hospital in North West London on Sunday evening and underwent a couple of X-rays. The staff there were great but with a backlog in surgery they said it was likely I’d have to wait the best part of a week for an operation.
I decided I had to do something sooner than that. I just couldn’t face the thought of having to wait that long. I own my own plumbing and heating business and being mobile and getting out to speak to people every day is vitally important. Any delay in getting back up on my feet was going to be bad for business. I made a few calls and on Monday, around mid-afternoon, I was moved to St John & St Elizabeth Hospital. By 9pm that evening I was in surgery.
Mr Youngman used a combination of plates and screws to repair the break suffered by Oliver
I don’t have private healthcare insurance, so I’m paying directly for my treatment. Even before I arrived, I was given quotes for a broad spectrum of scenarios and this was before they’d even had a chance to review my scans. I knew exactly how much I’d have to pay from best-case to worst-case scenario; it was incredibly reassuring.
Running my own business, I know how hard it can be to give someone an accurate costing when there are so many variables so to have that in a medical situation just brings huge peace of mind. It allowed me to focus on my recovery.
At every stage, I had my questions answered before I’d even asked them. I was always informed of what was going to happen, how it was going to happen and what time it was going to happen. For me, this is what set my experience at the Hospital apart. All the details were covered by staff who were kind, friendly and attentive. When you’re feeling vulnerable, the more you know the better. I felt constantly looked after. It helped that the room I was staying in felt like a hotel and the food was great!
It goes without saying that the surgery – undertaken by Mr James Youngman – went well. I’ve had two plates and screws put in and I’m already back at home. The morning after the operation, I was already half-standing on my leg stretching my ankle. It was amazing. In the first week, there’s only so much you can do until the swelling goes down but I’ve been given lots of stretching exercises by the physio team to aid my recovery. Check-ups are already in the diary, so that will mean more scans and then I’ll be advised on the next steps. All this aftercare was part of the original costing they presented to me.
I’d thoroughly recommend St John and St Elizabeth Hospital, it took all the anxiety out of my situation. As I said before, when you’ve been given all the information, it puts your mind at ease. I thought the entire experience was just very professional and caring.
Mr James Youngman, a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, has been working with our Hospital for 14 years and operated on Oliver. We caught up with him to discuss Oliver’s case and the importance of keeping all patients involved and informed during every step of their treatment.
When Oliver’s foot landed on the ground, it caused a rotational force that spun the tibia and fibula at the bottom of the leg bone externally causing it to fracture and break the bone into lots of pieces.
When I first saw the X-ray of Oliver’s leg I knew the options were between fixing it internally, with either a rod down the bone or a plate and screws, or externally with wires, pins and a frame.
When patients are physically vulnerable and feeling emotional after a trauma, it’s key to support them in every way we can. It’s also vital to keep them involved in the decision-making process, so we discussed the risk and benefits of both of his surgery options.
Oliver informed me that he was very keen to avoid an external frame. Having chosen the plate option, which gives you nice stability, he could then move the ankle and rehabilitate early.
With fractures of this kind, you have to let them go through a phase of being damaged and to let them settle down before you can operate. At the same time, if you wait too long the soft tissue swells up and blisters. You only have a short window to let out the blood and relieve the pressure. We had that window of opportunity but that could have changed quickly.
Another view of Oliver’s damaged leg and the repair work undertaken by Mr Youngman
Having seen a picture of Oliver’s fracture before he arrived at the Hospital, I was able to plan our options and make sure we had all the right kit available. In advance of his arrival, we had everything organised and ready.
To ensure an operation like this runs smoothly, it’s essential that everyone is working together. By everyone, I mean the admissions team, the nurses on the ward, the theatres, the porters…everybody has to be pulling together. When things go well, as they did with Oliver’s case, you know it has been a real team effort. Of course, it requires a huge amount of dedication and coordination to ensure that happens but this is the way it always is at St John & Lizzies.
Against the backdrop of COVID-19, we’ve faced a lot of change and challenges, so it was great to get Oliver treated so efficiently and effectively at short notice. It’s a huge credit to all the team at the Hospital.
If you are looking for the swift reassurance our Hospital can offer, get in contact and book a consultation online or call us on 020 7806 4000 for more information.