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to use the word discrimination in a letter of complaint?

(26 Posts)
ithoughtofitfirst Tue 19-Aug-14 13:49:00

I can just hear my Dad saying be very careful before using that word.

I'm writing about something that happened weeks ago when I saw a consultant in my antenatal clinic (which was I think 45 minutes late to see me by which time my toddler was climbing up the walls) I saw someone who was filling in for my usual one. When she measured my fundal height and listened to the heartbeat. She just casually said 'why are you having more children ithought ? With your mental health issues?' (depression)

I can't remember what my response was exactly but I think It was just something meek like oh I always wanted 2 children. But then I got home and was like well fuck me is that any of her business? Not even my own mum asked me that. Then I just felt really judged for my family planning choices and a bit upset. My usual consultant just talks asks me if I'm coping (which I am) and how I feel and then scribbles something for my psychiatrist in my notes.

I have several other picky little complaints about other parts of the service too. I spoke to some uppity secretary this morning for example who just kept interrupting me when I was trying to explain something pretty simple. And when I said 'ok thank you bye' she slammed the phone down half way through it. I'm obviously NOT putting that down to discrimination. She was just a rude bitch grin

Is it too strong a word? I don't think she said it in a malicious way but it did comes across pretty judgmental.

WooWooOwl Tue 19-Aug-14 13:50:36

It sounds unprofessional, but it doesn't sound like discrimination to me.

sleepyhead Tue 19-Aug-14 13:52:08

No, I don't think you're being unreasonable. Would she have said the same to someone with a physical disability which meant that she might have some additional support needs (or not). Would she have said the same to someone with a demanding job, or without a partner at home to help?

TheGoop Tue 19-Aug-14 13:52:40

could you use 'unprofessional' or 'irrelevant' instead?

Deverethemuzzler Tue 19-Aug-14 13:53:10

It may give them a way of wriggling out of addressing your concerns.
They can say 'there is no proof of any discrimination' and that will be it.

I you say 'I felt Dr xxx was being judgmental and I left the appointment feeling xxxxx' they can't argue with that because it is how you feel.

You can use 'inappropriate' too because it was. It was a non clinical question to a woman who was already pregnant.

LadyLuck10 Tue 19-Aug-14 13:53:19

Unprofessional maybe. Discrimination is a stretch I think.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Tue 19-Aug-14 13:53:21

It's wholly inappropriate at an ante-natal consultation, and you'd be right to complain, but I personally would save the term discrimination for where you've been actively treated differently due to your MH history. Just my opinion though.

sleepyhead Tue 19-Aug-14 13:53:49

It's discrimination because she's treating the op differently/less favourably (eg asking personal qs, making op feel uncomfortable) because of her mental health.

There's no excuse and the midwife will have received training on how to not do this.

tigermoll Tue 19-Aug-14 13:55:23

I'm not sure it's discrimination, since the consultant didn't refuse to provide any service or bar you from anything. He/she was rude, unprofessional and thoughtless and you are well within your rights to complain but without using the word discrimination.

Deverethemuzzler Tue 19-Aug-14 13:56:44

It is discrimination but we are discussing how best to word a complaint.
Discrimination is very hard to prove.

Much easier for them to dismiss.

Recounting what was said and then explaining how it made her feel and how inappropriate it was is harder to excuse.

ithoughtofitfirst Tue 19-Aug-14 14:00:31

Thanks everyone. I will say 'judgmental' instead I think because I felt judged.

I'm not really in the right frame of mind to go apeshit or OTT just thought I could save someone else the embarrassment of feeling irresponsible for reproducing because they have MH issues.

SaucyJack Tue 19-Aug-14 14:03:54

Would she have taken it upon herself to make negative remarks about family planning choices of a woman without MH issues? No. Then it's discrimination.

dogscatsandbabies Tue 19-Aug-14 14:35:16

I agree that this is not the way such a question should have been worded. However, it is an open question that you cannot answer by just saying yes, which you can if someone just asks if you are coping. I wonder if Dr just felt that they wanted to get you talking to get a better idea of how you were actually feeling.

Misjudged, clearly. But I really don't see it as discrimination.

ithoughtofitfirst Tue 19-Aug-14 14:43:04

The most annoying thing is I felt like I was treated like a completely different person last pregnancy because my husband worked far less and was able to attend appointments with me, I didn't have an energetic 2 year old in tow and I wasn't consultant led. I feel, in hindsight, like that was my reward for having a straightforward, low risk pregnancy. Bastards.

BloodyClarey Tue 19-Aug-14 14:46:11

It's unprofessional yes. By all means say something. But uppity is also a nasty word.

ithoughtofitfirst Tue 19-Aug-14 14:50:21

I'm not using the word uppity in my complaint bloody !

Lottiedoubtie Tue 19-Aug-14 14:50:27

The most annoying thing is I felt like I was treated like a completely different person last pregnancy because my husband worked far less and was able to attend appointments with me

I agree, my husband has attended approx half of my consultant appointments this pregnancy and the difference in the way I'm spoken to by (all female) doctors is staggering.

Sorry off the topic of your original post but still it makes me angry

LadyIsabellaWrotham Tue 19-Aug-14 15:28:35

I agree with a pp that "are you coping?" is also a dreadful question which could result in a vulnerable patient failing to get help.

MiscellaneousAssortment Tue 19-Aug-14 16:56:09

I think it was discrimination, but I don't think you should start by using that word. Save that for if you have to ramp up the complaint.

I'd question why she felt it was part of her remit to ask that question, which resulted in you being put in the position of having to justify your ability and right to be a parent/ pregnant. And I'd say how that made you feel, coming from a HCP, someone in authority with power over your treatment throughout pregnancy.

And perhaps ask what she meant to accomplish by that question, as I cannot see any reason to ask that question other than to assert her authority and make you feel bad.

And my personal message to you, not to be written in a letter (!)... She can fuck off to the far land of fuck!

How dare she treat you differently because you have had mental health problems. How dare she ask you such a loaded and personal question which implies a value judgement about depression and your capability to be a good mother? Fuck off fuckity fucker.


ithoughtofitfirst Tue 19-Aug-14 17:21:38

Haha thank you miscellaneous appreciate it. I decided to hold off on the D bomb and went for 'judgement' instead as people suggested. I did say that I felt that had I been a patient she deemed 'normal' that she probably would not have asked such a question. Which was 'a shame'.

I also went back through my letter and added in a few sentences about aspects of the clinic/department that have been excellent. And a paragraph about how they could improve on the things I think could be causing patirnts unnecessary upset. So it's not just complaining for the sake of complaining. Like a play area for children (yeah you know that scan I had nearly three years ago... is now a child! Shocking!)

I didn't tell you about the HSW who told me off for not keeping my toddler under control ... an hour after my.appointment time should have been. Oh yes! That went in the letter!

Laurel1979 Tue 19-Aug-14 17:51:04

I think you are reasonable to let the Dr know that their attitude was judgemental. However I do feel that it is unnecessary to add lots of trivial detail to your letter. The absence of a play area is hardly grounds to make a complaint to a hospital clinic.

ithoughtofitfirst Tue 19-Aug-14 17:56:29

Even a shitty beads rollercoaster grin ?

laurel I made a complaint. Then provided feedback. In to the 'feedback and complaints' department of my local nhs trust. Cheers though.

MrsBoldon Tue 19-Aug-14 18:55:44

Are you Consultant led because of your MH problems?.

None of my business really but may be why she felt she was in a position to comment (which I don't think she should have btw!, I agree it was unprofessional and judgemental).

ILovePud Tue 19-Aug-14 20:33:56

I'm sorry you had such a horrible experience. I think the advice from Deverethemuzzler is spot on. I'd also give some thought over whether you want to include, what you term as, the other 'picky, little complaints' in this letter as it may detract from the most serious issue, I'd be concerned that it may make it easier for the service to write you off as a serial moaner and avoid dealing with the consultant's attitude.

ithoughtofitfirst Tue 19-Aug-14 21:26:37

Yes because I had pnd after my son was born. But actually later sort of more broadly diagnosed as depression. (broadly as in not to do with perinatal mental health)

I know what you mean though I don't mind at all! I'm sure she didnt say it to be a cow... I'm just really really sensitive about how I am treated as a mother relating to my mental health. (Because I do my fucking best every goddam day to make his life the best I.can give him) grrr

No strong feelings here

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