Poor Service at Great Western Hospital, Swindon

I had a series of tests carried out by Cardiology Dept and 3 months later the results of these tests had not been forwarded to either myself or my GP.

I made several telephone calls to the Cardiology Dept and most of the time the call was answered by a machine and despite leaving a message, nobody ever called me back. I eventually found the email address of one of the Doctors in the Dept and this doctor informed me their secretary would fax the results to my GP…

The results did not arrive and so I chased the Doctor on two further occasions. Again, the doctor said their secretary would be asked to send them through.

At the time of writing another week has passed and neither I nor my GP has any results.

Considering the nature of the tests, it is nothing short of poor professional standards, in my opinion, not to mention the anxiety of not knowing if there is anything wrong or not.


Nobody available to tell us what is going on

My elderly father and mother have had such difficulty in dealing with this hospital. The service is awful, cleanliness and hygiene is poor, patient care seems nearly non existent and patients are always kept in the dark and waiting for hours on end.

My father was taken ill into GWH a number of weeks ago, the nurses seemed incapable of performing routine tasks such as taking blood and putting a catheter in. They seem to use people as pin-cushions here way before getting someone to perform a procedure that is capable.

Worse than this, my father had kidney issues and was in the urology department (the one we have had all of the issues with). Part of the process is keeping a high, but steady fluid intake into each patient and monitoring this. On several occasions I had to walk around the ward trying to find someone to bring him water after asking many times. A simple requirement like this turned into a very long winded process and on one occasion took over two hours to get a jug of water for him.

The nurses and doctors were also using a sink in the ward (Ampney ward) that had no soap, they were simply washing with water after examining patients and performing procedures. After telling them on several occasions there was no anti-bacterial hand wash, they listened and put some in, but this took THREE days. Nobody that I saw in this time used the solution at the end of each bed to kill bacteria or germs. On another occasion, a sterile carton was opened, then left on a dirty window sill with an open window for over 30 minutes before the doctor returned and then went to use the implements on my father – he was surprised when we refused.

Procedures and timing is always late, and we aren’t talking the odd hour, we are talking hours upon hours, sometimes an entire day. In this time, it seems impossible to get any answers from the staff – the doctors or people that are in the ‘know’ are never available.

Trying to talk to anyone also seems impossible. Secretaries and administrative staff seem to go home as early as 3:30, if you try to talk to somebody on the phone to resolve an issue they simply transfer you all around until you either have a phone ringing off the hook or an answer phone.

My father went back into hospital for an operation today, they made him get changed into a gown and wait in the normal outpatient area for six hours – three hours passed the appointment, during this time no one as normal seemed to know what was going on and simply told my parents to wait for the doctor. At 17:30 staff packed up and went home, they told my father to get dressed and go home as they couldn’t do it now.

Upon complaining they were told they would just have to sit around and wait to speak to the doctor with no indication again of how long he would be, then staff proceeded to go home.

I called the hospital to ask what was going on after my mother called me upset (they were very worried about the operation as it was, and now had yet again been messed around). The switchboard put me through incorrectly to the booking centre, then I went back to the switch board, then they transferred me to the ward which rang off the hook. Then they told me the staff in that ward had gone home earlier, they transferred me to another ward incorrectly who couldn’t help (but I was told they could), I then went back to the switchboard after complaining they said there was nothing they could do and transferred me to the customer liaison team who go home at 4:30.

Honestly, this is pathetic. I get the feeling the only way someone gets any treatment or service is if they are dying and turn up in an ambulance.


A1 care

I was ammitted to A&E with swollen face & a temp of over 40.

The Nurse was amazing and gave me 100% care. A few hrs later I was taken to a ward SAU where I stayed for about 24hrs, the staff on this ward was amazing and cared for everyone with respect. Then I was moved to Meldon ward again the staff gave 100%, they work so hard and look very tired sometimes but still attend to you if neeeded.

food not the best but good, but I say that we are not in a hotel, we are there to be treated & get back on your feet ready to get back home. If all the wards acted like these 2 wards do then it wouod be a brilliant hospital.


Improving BP cuffs

I had a 24 hr BP monitor fitted recently and within a few hours had problems with the cuff twisting and overinflating on my arm.

This was at a high reading of BP so had to go to 250mm Hg. On twisting it caused the metal hinge to press very heavily on my inner arm and made the vein painful for hours. After returning to the hospital two more cuffs were tried before a decent one got a good reading.

That night, the pain on measurement on the original arm was bad -so I switched to the other arm in the night- this would have affected the readings ,as my arms were different relative readings.

The staff in the hospital were helpful and cheerful but they needed more resources to service the patient throughout, it seems, without having to use wrongly sized or worn gear.

This won’t cost the price of a manager !

*** One important aspect- my home BP monitor cuff has a similar velcro clamp mechanism – which works well but does have a firmer build. Why is the soft material type still in use when it causes pain and gives bad results when the material gets tired and slips along the metal hinge and then twists on inflating?

The cuff then balloons worryingly.

The stress and discomfort of these episodes are affected my readings badly , I reckon!


My Daughters Story

My story takes place in Great western Hospital in Swindon. My 2 year old girl has a haemangioma that due to its placement became infected. Last year she was put into hospital for a week, the day time staff was very nice. But when it got to night time the staff didnt seem to care. One night my daughter was taken away from because they said they could make her stop crying- i didn’t agree to this but she took still my daughter. Another night lots of new patients were coming in. And my daughter couldnt settel and was crying alot of the night. One of the nurses – same one who took her away the previous night tried to persuade me to let them put her on morphine as it would help her sleep – I was horrified. I knew she wasn’t in pain she was tired. It was just because my daughter was noisey and distruptive not because she was in pain.


Thank you to great western hospital staff

i would just like to say a massive big thank you to all the staff from beech ward.

i went in on jan 30th to have a hysterectomy…..i was not feeling the best during my stay but had all the help i needed while i was in there even though the staff were rushed off there feet i felt really sorry for them as they do such a fantastic job….so well done all of you

i have totally recovered and i recovered really quick i think

i want to send special thanks to the little aussie nurse ha ha she will know who she is ….and also to another nurse that was from the black country…sorry i forgot the names but the less i think about my stay in there the better

well done to everyone from the beech ward


The Liverpool care plan.

I previously wrote a recent article entitled ‘Upset by communications about my brothers care’, but I now feel compelled to add another event to this which happened after my brother was transferred from Woodpecker ward to Saturn ward at the Swindon Great Western Hospital. I subsequently wrote to the chief executive of the hospital, and intend to do so yet again, after I have recovered from the shock of what has happened, and done all that I need to in the aftermath.

My 76 year old brother had been ill for about 3 1/2 weeks with pneumonia and signs of renal failure as his passing of water although it had shown signs of slight improvement had not recovered any further so we were told by the doctor on his rounds last Friday.What happened next was unbelievable as whilst my wife and 14 year old autistic son were around my brothers bed side, the doctor said to him, ‘we would have expected your kidneys to have responded to the antibiotics and other drugs that we have been giving you, but there has been little or no improvement and so we consider that it is pointless continuing with the treatment, and so we will not put any more tubes in to you, as your condition will gradually worsen and all we can do is make you as comfortable as possible’.

This as you can well imagine was extremely frightening for my brother, and alarming for my wife and my son.

The doctor then took us to the patient day room to add to what he had already said to my brother, and said that my brother was now on what was referred to as ‘The Liverpool care plan’ which means that any further treatment does not happen from that point onwards and is supposed to be made as comfortable as possible until the inevitable happens. I felt like they might have well have said that to save the cost of any further treatment, we have decided not to bother.

I found this decision shocking and appalling, as every deserves the right to receive treatment for as long as possible no matter what their age may be, just in case they do happen to turn the corner and recover.

Sadly my brother lost the battle for life that evening, but the ordinary nursing staff were really excellent, and are in no way to blame for what I now perceive as being cost cutting especially when it comes to the elderly. If you have an elderly relative in hospital I would consider making it clear that you wish their treatment to continue until there is no chance of recovery, and I would reject the Liverpool care plan.


Upset by communication about my brother’s care

Having believed in the NHS for all of my life it is with dismay that I now find myself in the position of having to complain vigorously about an appalling episode which occurred whilst I and other family members were visiting my 76 year old brother at Woodpecker ward in early February, after he had earlier in the week been admitted with Pneumonia.

Three of the family including myself, my brother’s wife, and my 14 year old son, visited during the afternoon between 14:30 to 17:00 hrs. We were all extremely worried and anxious as the ward had been trying to contact us that morning, to tell us that my brother had been given a bowl of soup which he may have not swallowed correctly, although they could not confirm this as the cause, he may have choked on it and had turned blue, and had to be resuscitated after his heart had stopped beating for three minutes.

He was taken for an x-ray or scan shortly after we arrived, and at that time we were told by the staff nurse that was attending him that the doctor would be along to speak with us in an hour’s time, after they had more results, and so when my brother was returned to the ward a short time later we waited to see the doctor who duly arrived at approximately 16.45. My brother was fully conscious and lucid at the time, and knew who each of us were, even though he had a very loose rattling cough, and was obviously very ill.

The Doctor introduced herself, and then went on to speak with us whilst at my brother’s bedside, saying that there had been an episode that morning where my brother had possibly choked on some soup that he had been eating and some could have gone down into his lungs. She then went on to say that because of his condition, if it were to happen again for any reason, then they wouldn’t consider resuscitating him, because he could end up with even more damage in the way of possible broken ribs, and may end up in a worse condition in ‘intensive care’, and because of the his quality of life, to be frank it wouldn’t be worth it.

This was said to me, and his wife, and also in front of my fourteen year old son who has a autistic condition, and at the time I stood there in shock as I could not believe what was being said, with my brother who was fully conscious and lucid had been listening to it also.

When it was time to leave after visiting hours, I had had time to recollect and get over the shock of what had been said to us in front of my brother, and I thought to myself that it was similar to what one gets told by a Vet when a treasured pet is coming to the end of its lifespan, but this was my brother that she had been speaking of, who is my sole remaining blood relative on this planet.

I then went to the ward reception desk as I felt that this event should not be overlooked for the sake of my brother, and others at the GWH, where I saw the Doctor concerned with her back to me over the far side of the desk, and I asked a nearby colleague to draw her attention to the fact that I would like to speak with her.

She duly came over, and I expressed my concern about what she had said to my family whilst at my brother’s bedside and I told her that I was not happy about what she had said, and her response was that I had not understood, and anyway she had received instructions from two consultants, one whose name was McKinley, and another one who she mentioned at the time but I can’t recall. I then got rather angry, saying I thought that you people were here to save life, and then considered that I was wasting my time by raising the subject, and proceeded out of the hospital.

The next day my son was in tears and highly distressed at the thought that he may never see his uncle ever again, and it was at this point that I decided to make a complaint to the PALS at the GWH which is the Patient Advice Liaison Service, who told me that they needed to speak with my brother to see if he was willing for me to raise it as a complaint, but then went on to say that there was indeed a policy of non resuscitation in place if it was considered by the powers that be, and in this case the two consultants that the quality of life in their opinion would not make such action worth it.

It seems to me that PFI hospitals under Cameron’s coalition government need to save money no matter what the means may be, and it would appear it is happening by letting the elderly die, or possibly helping them on their way, as there has been reports of starvation with food not being given, and more importantly fluids not being given. I remain far from happy with this state of affairs, especially in the light of the treatment of my brother, and furthermore I am not satisfied with my dealings with PALS, which has only compounded my fears, and will now consider taking the matter further, for the sake of elderly patients that deserve the right to expect both their life and dignity to be heeded at any age.

However I would like to commend the ordinary nursing staff, who were outstanding whilst telling me in detail what was happening concerning my brothers treatment, and they are in no way to blame for the perceived short comings of their clinical seniors.

However I still feel anxious and worried knowing that my brother is still resident in Woodpecker ward at the GWH, as I have now lost completely my faith in the senior clinical staff, as having the welfare and the life of my brother, along with that of other elderly people before that of cost cutting, and therefore looking at the big picture I have never felt that the NHS was safe in PM David Cameron’s hands, and have now had it confirmed in no uncertain terms.


They Saved My Life

I have just had a triple bypass heart op at Bristol Royal Infirmary – actually at their Bristol Heart Institute, newly opened. The expertise and help exhibited throughout by the doctors and nurses there was wonderful. What makes me so grateful is that this came after what I feel was a complete run-around by Swindon’s Great Western Hospital for 2.5 years.

At the angiogram GWH gave me, the doctor said to me there’s no way they’d want to try to put a stent in my heart. Yet after postponing appointments for 8 months, he told me that he thought he could do one of my arteries- not the main and worse one, but another. I feel that this would have killed me if I hadn’t insisted on going to BRI.