Confidential?

We don't expect our reason for seeing a nurse or doctor to be broadcast to the waiting room. But that's exactly what happened to Karen James, when she wanted to get hold of emergency contraception

Karen James, 26 October 2008

I live in Nottingham, and today I had to go to the local walk-in health centre for emergency contraception.

Everybody was very non-judgmental on the phone and at the centre. That is until I was called for my turn with the nurse.

I was in a waiting area with about 40 other patients and a water dispenser in the room, and when the nurse called for me she then said "Hello Rachael, so would you like to just get yourself some water from the dispenser over there and then we can go in".

Everyone in the waiting room heard and saw this. I was shocked, humiliated and stunned!!

I didn't know what to say and I could feel all eyes boring into me so I dutifully went to the dispenser. I dare not look up because I knew what every person was thinking... and this was confirmed clearly to me by a man to my left, who muttered: "That's the morning-after pill she's getting then."

I virtually ran into the private room directed to me by the nurse!! As I went in, I also got the feeling that she would have left the door ajar had I not shut it firmly behind me!

Otherwise, she was very nice and I took the pill. It really did not hit me what had just happened until I was half-way home... and then I was livid.

If members of staff at the centre think that this is wrong - why on earth haven't they yet remedied the situation?

After a couple of hours of fuming this afternoon, I called NHS Direct (they had originally told me about the centre) to complain. The very helpful supervisor called the walk-in centre on my behalf. She was as angry as me!

She called me back and told me that a few members of staff at the centre had apparently commented that making patients use a very public water dispenser was a total invasion of confidentiality and that I should write to the head-nurse at the centre next week.

So my feelings on this: Why on earth couldn't they just have a water dispenser in the private room? If members of staff at the centre think that this is wrong - why on earth haven't they yet remedied the situation? And why did I have to do a virtual "walk-of-shame" to get my water with EVERYONE knowing what I was there for and all of them judging me?

Confidental? Private? Non-judgemental? Absolute rubbish!!

It just felt almost like a moral "punishment" for my daring to have sex. I would really love to hear other people's thoughts on this matter because I value the opinions of the members of this site.

About the author

Karen James

Karen James is quite a good writer and so is slightly ashamed that this article is a bit of a rant!

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