My husband’s TIA and my TIA

In July last year my husband suffered a TIA. We went to Southend Hospital A&E and after examination by the Stroke Registrar, he was admitted to the Stroke Unit and monitored overnight. He then took part in a pilot to try out some drugs. He was also monitored further to see what had caused his stroke. It was later discovered that he had a heart murmur. All this time, he was looked after with the greatest of care and continues to do so during his visits to the Warfarin Clinic.

Ten days after my husband had the TIA, I experienced tingling in my left arm. At first I thought I had been lying on it, but when it happened again, we rang for the ambulance. I was taken to A & E. Nothing was found, but they referred me to the Stroke Clinic and I was given an appointment for the following week. I thought I had over-reacted, but they said not to worry. I had a Doppler scan and the consultant said I would not be going home. He showed me the X-Ray of my carotid artery and explained that I was in danger of having a full-blown stroke.

To cut a long story short, I was admitted to hospital, everyone was so kind and took time to explain what they wanted to do and what the operation would entail and what could happen. This happened several times and several people spoke to me about it. The surgical team visited me and explained everything that would happen.

I did have to spend a long time in hospital because the specialist anaesthetists were not available, but during all that time I was really well looked after and was never made to feel a nuisance and I never felt ignored and put in a corner. Every time someone came into the ward they spoke to me, even when they had come to see someone else.

I have to say that everyone on this ward treated me with the utmost care and respect and I think this Unit achieves the standard that any ward or unit would be pleased to attain.

Since then I have had treatment in the Endoscopy Unit and have also found them to be kind and caring.

Both my husband and I think we are lucky to live close to Southend Hospital and we are very grateful to have received such wonderful care.


Being refused a scan for a high-risk condition in my family

I have been refused a test which may save my life. Why? Good question, one I would love to know.

My family has a history of subarachnoid haemorrhage, my aunt suffered one five years ago and as my great nan died of the same condition my family was told by her consultant to have a scan to check if anyone else was at risk.

First my three cousins were scanned by Southend hospital, later my mother got her scan – she had a an ophtalmic aneurysm which needed surgery quickly to save her life as this aneurysm is very serious and she would not live long.

Later 3 other members of the family have been confirmed with this problem.

Now Southend hospital refuses to test me because I don’t have 2 first family members with the problem but they did scan my cousins who have the same family members as me! And they got the test with only one first degree family which is the same as me!

I am an only child, so I will not have the chance of having two first degree relatives having this problem. Why am I being refused?

Cm punk

My mum’s distressing last days

My Mum was admitted to Southend University Hospital on 11th February with a UTI (urinary tract infection) and chest infection. Mum was 90 years of age, suffering type 2 diabetes for decades and vascular senile dementia. We waited in A&E from 5.00pm until 1.30am, until she was sent to AMU (acute medical unit), we left her at 2.00am on 12th Feb. She was admitted to Eleanor Hobbs Ward at 10.00am that day. I had been advised by staff at A&E to not continue giving mum the antibiotics prescribed by her GP for the UTI. When she got to the ward she was soaked in urine and faeces.

She was treated for the diabetes, as her blood sugar levels had been high for some time, diabetic nurses had advised insulin a year before, but the GP stated that blood screening (twice yearly) indicated that there was no significant kidney impairment and continued with gliclazide and metformin.

It took medical team 6 days to take a urine spec. for histology which indicated a UTI and they began treatment. During this time mum had been given sugar in drinks, as domestic staff asked her if she wanted it! (senile dementia!). We maintained full cover for all visiting times, and mum’s three main carers including myself, my sister and another family member reported any concerns, which were many, to staff.

We had found mum’s medication on the floor, as mum had not been supervised with this, no water given etc. We found her soaked in urine, faeces, other patients wearing her clothes, no slippers on her, insufficient clothing. The list is really endless.

One week after her admission, she was declared medically fit for discharge, pressure brought to bear for us to identify a residential home for her, initially for a four week assessment period, as she had sustained three falls and really her care needs had surpassed what we could provide. She had been living in her own flat.

On 22nd February mum deteriorated and we were called to the hospital as she had gone into renal failure. Mum died at 2.55 on 23rd February. It was not an easy death, peaceful in her sleep, but distressed and bloated; we wonder if she was suffering in pain. We will, fortunately, never know.

All I know is that, when she had been previously admitted in June 2008 for an infected toe, (which is another long story of lack of medical care) she was discharged in a far worse condition that she had been before the admission. She was discharged with awful diarrhoea, that took us 6 hours to control.

Mum died on 23rd February of a UTI and Diabetic ketoacidosis. I know what causes this, and I think that the signs should have been identified before. In my opinion, the antibiotics should have been administered before, and they should make sure that diabetics are not given totally dangerous foods and drinks.

We feel that the lack of care was stunning in its enormity, and I hate to think of what will befall any elderly patient with any form of dementia, unable to speak out for themselves. OK mum was 90, and not that many get to that age, but we feel that staff should care more for patients, and take on board concerns of family. We had been caring for her since dad died in 2000, and knew her well, also administering her medication, supervising diet etc. etc. We all cared, this is the thing, we mourn her loss. My sister cannot push the image of mum’s last hours from her mind. The attending doctor that night told us that they would not resus. which we agreed was the best thing, her pulse rate went below 50 and monitors sounded, but it took us running to staff to call them before anyone attended. It was a nightmare.

Mum is now at peace, we all wish that we could have done more, if not to save mum, then at least to have made her last hours better. I dread the day that any other members of our family, friends, or anyone else actually, as an elderly person gets admitted to any hospital where they will receive this level of care, be declared medically fit then die, from something that could, I think, be prevented.


My darling dad

My dad is in hospital at the moment, I’m going through the biggest heartache since my mum died. I feel the ward sister has been unimaginably cruel to me, my son and father. I really don’t know where to turn as we are the main carers for dad, so much has happened yet nothing explained. We were just told he has changes in his head scan but that could be because he moved, dementia was mentioned but never explained. My dad kept calling out for help but was left to his own devices and had a very nasty fall banging his head hitting hospital door. The ward sister rang and said your dad’s fallen over again, he has a bump the size of an egg. When we got there it was the size of a tennis ball!

A few more things happened, the nurse kept saying he’s very confused, but every time we were there he was ok, forgetful at times but just to us it seemed same dad/ granddad but maybe just drained from being ill in hospital. We didn’t question the ward nurse as I felt she wasn’t the most approachable person and we didn’t want to upset anyone because we had to leave dad there. We went to see dad and he had wee around his feet on the floor, he told us it had been there for over a hour, something the lady who served the food said was true to us too, and that he had fallen and had been ignored. I just wanted to get dad home where I thought I would be able to look after him. One evening, I went to see dad and spoke to the said nurse and had it out with her in front of the doctor.

I’ve never met such a rude, uncaring person in all my life. Next thing I know she’s back in the room telling me that dad can come home the next day but just needs a blood transfusion as something was a bit low. This was as long as I was prepared to look after him until a care package was arranged on the Monday. I said I would clean him etc, and then I said but if he’s not well enough to come home then obviously I would wait. She said no, it’s just the care package. I don’t think he was assessed and I was told to come pick him up next day. I said we had no wheel chair and she arranged transport. Dad arrived to mine in a dirty nappy, he had loose stools. So I cleaned him up in the bathroom with the help of my son, bless him he done it again and we were very worried about him. He kept shouting help, help, then he had a bit of dinner and I gave him his tablets he calmed down but I thought he didn’t look good.

We didn’t know what to do so we called an ambulance and they suggested he come back to hospital. We then sat in A&E until dad was put in the acute medical ward, they were very nice there and said they didn’t think dad should have come out but that I had discharged him. I was very upset about this as I would never have done that, they said I must complain to PALS and said sorry for our treatment. I said it wasn’t their fault but it’s mine for being so naïve. They should have put dad back on that ward but because of our situation they put him on another ward, where he is now until Monday when we will see the social worker. They’re very nice and although they were a surgical ward, things were explained more to me about the just diagnosed dementia, and how he should not have just come home. I’m very upset, we love dad very much. I have no partner it’s just me and my 20 year old son here and we feel very alone and confused and just helpless. I can’t stop crying as I can’t believe that ward sister would say I discharged him and sent him home fully knowing that we had no idea what to expect. Even though there is the noroviris on the ward, I don’t know what to do. I have since found out that my dad could be heard calling for help from the next ward, by the nurses that are thankfully looking after him now. I have also had a patient who has approached me and told me he heard a man and a woman telling my dad to shut up.


Upset with care in my wife’s final months

My wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer 3/1/08, and died 6/10/08 in Southend University hospital. During this period, I felt that her clinical and nursing care was appalling. All of this has been told to the hospital, and is subject to enquiry and review.

At times during her care, my wife’s patient file notes were not made up, and often her patient record was not available. Her medication and pain relief was not always given when needed. Her discharge medication was sometimes not given, prescription ignored, or in sufficient quantity or missed off entirely. And her 24 hour chemo infusion was administered in 8 hours, despite 2 nurses who were legally bound to countersign the chart and check each others procedure.

My wife on another occasion became so ill, despite notes in the file and her drawing staffs attention at 11.30 a.m. to how she was feeling, and my doing so in the afternoon, that she subsequently had 2 fits. During the 2nd one, I was the only person available and alerted staff. They told her next day that a CT scan showed the cancer had spread to her brain. The impact of this news can only be imagined. Luckily an MRI scan, on analysis, showed this not to be the case. But the damage to our confidence was done. Finally, she had drain tube fitted, under a short medical procedure, to draw off fluid build up. The flow rate should have been controlled, but was allowed to free drain, which was completely wrong. I drew staff attention to this at the time and expressed my concern and increasing despair at what was happening.

She was discharged ill, which is agreed. The hospital failed to inform the districts nurses, standard procedure, of the discharge and management. They found out from me. She drained freely for 10 days, literally draining the life out of her with district Macmillan nurses and emergency call out doctor, apparently watching it happen, and my seeing her decline. She was readmitted to hospital with kidney failure. Her cancer was back, but this accelerated her decline. She was left for over 4 hours, by doctors who said she was not on their list. This had happened numerous times over the period of her illness. I felt some doctors and consultants had appalling attitudes, and arrogance seemed to prevail.

She survived a further 10 days in hospital before she died. I stayed for the whole time and, as I said at the review meeting, it was hell knowing what she had been through and what she went through in that period before she died. A lot more happened, but that is the essence of the story. It is scary and frightening that so much should happen to one person in such a short period of time, when she knew from the outset she only had 6 months to a year to live. She was remarkably brave, showed incredible strength and humility, did not want to be a burden, but I feel she was ultimately failed by a system meant to care but too bound up in justifying its own existence. This attitude was shown time and again from the highest to the lowest. And they didn’t seem to follow their own complaints procedure correctly. This just adds insult to injury and the disdain with which I feel we were treated.

dave 1954

Great Caring Nurses

Anything else?

I was unfortunate to need to have a lump removed from my breast 8 weeks after losing my sister to breast cancer.

The nurses were all very understanding and caring. I was even moved to a side room so that I was able to have some solitude which was much needed getting my head around the irony of my situation.

Not only did the nurses look after my every need medically they went the extra mile to help me emotionally.

Thank you so much


Outstanding care in acute medical unit

I spent almost a week at Kitty Hubbard Ward Southend Hospital.

The standard of care I observed was outstanding. Everyone including myself was treated with dignity and respect. Nurses were caring and diligent.

I can’t thank them enough. I could go on and on about the skills and knowledge of the staff I came into contact with.

I can’t think of anything negative to say.


Southend-on-Sea Hospital Blood Clinic

Having had to have had blood taken 2 times in the last 3 weeks, I find that the clinic has moved from the front of the Hosp’ due to a new coffee shop and shop now in that area. It is now in OPD3 (no real name such as blood, and or clinic) just OPD3.

The OPD3 is in fact a home for the clinic until the new one has been built. The issues are that now you are told to have an appointment time, and not just a “walk in” clinic. This fails to work when you are sent from another clinic for a blood test, as you just have to go to the clinic. This means on the 2 times I went, that some 60 people where in front of me on the ticket number, and no space to sit down and wait. I was forced into the main hosp corridor, with no chairs to sit on. Just waiting, for over 1.5 hours in a corridor.

The machine that shows your ticket number is inside the very small clinic area, so you have to keep making your way from the corridor into the clinic area to find how many folk are in front of you. I did complain to the PALS service after the 2nd visit, but I felt they showed little interest in trying to improve the situation (but then again PALS is funded via the Hosp’, so this is not a free standing system as was the days of the Community Health Council).

I now have to go back for 2 more blood tests as urgent – but cannot find any links on the hosp web site for the number of the clinic to book an appointment. I think this shows a lack of for the services service users.