NHS Change Day: Lucy's story - understanding autism 

Lucy has Asperger's syndrome. On a visit to her local NHS hospital, the triage nurse told her to wait outside after the initial examination, which she took literally, rather than taking a seat in the waiting room. This resulted in Lucy waiting outside for hours in the cold before she was found and brought inside. This video recreates Lucy's experience and shows that even health professionals need a better understanding of the challenges patients with autism experience within the NHS.

Learn more about autism

Transcript of NHS Change Day: Lucy's story - understanding autism


(man) When Lucy shared her story with me,

my first thoughts were "That's terrible, that's awful."

(Lucy) I've got a lot of difficulties

with communication and understanding things.

But I've still got good intelligence and good language skills.

Lucy went into A&E one day.

She was met by a triage nurse. The triage nurse told her...

Would you be able to go and wait outside, for the doctor to call you?


(man) Most patients would just go and wait outside in the waiting area.

Because Lucy has Asperger's, which is a type of autism,

she actually went and waited outside, in the cold.


Several hours later, the triage nurse was looking for Lucy,

wondering where she was.

Someone from the security car parking actually found her

and was asking what she was doing and why she was there.

(Lucy) I take things very literally.

I don't always understand non-verbal communication,

like body language or facial expression.

People don't realise how important those things are.

(Liam) What the triage nurse could have done differently

is been literal with Lucy and said, "Please take a chair

in the waiting area, a consultant will be along in a short while."

After hearing Lucy's story I decided that I needed to make a pledge

for NHS Change Day to pledge to understand autism better

as a member of the NHS,

and also to share this learning and understanding with others.

Please take time to understand the needs of people with autism.

changeday.nhs.uk MAKE YOUR PLEDGE



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