My Grandfather’s last days

I start my story from the last days of my granfathers life after a 12 week battle of complaints direct to Wansbeck’s CEO and complaints people trying to save his life and ensure things are done properly.

I get a phone call from ward 8, granddad has deteriorated again. My son and I head up there. His score was 6 early in the morning now back to 2 Whilst there he gets some blood back from the lab, we are told to gown up and gloves on, granddad is still MRSA positive. The woman visiting the patient in the bed opposite looks horrified. We gown up on a 6 bed bay ward just outside granddad’s bed. I feel for the woman opposite, she has just overheard that her husband is sharing a bay with a man with MRSA.

Dr came to see us before that to express concern and advise they are still treating granddad, however the next 72 hours will give us the direction this is going in. Dr tells me he’s very ill despite being brighter yesterday.

The gent in the next bed seems anxious. I ask my son to advise the nurses he comes back and tells me that he has been advised that R doesn’t need the loo he has a catheter, I then go and tell the nurse R is agitated, the nurse comes along, thanks me for advising him but does nothing, 2 mins later 2 other nurses come in and find they need to change R and make him more comfortable. R is left to rest behind closed curtains. Why couldn’t the first nurse see this and do something about it?

Another patient is wearing granddad’s slippers, his daughter gives them back to me. Her comments are who is watching these patients? My answer would be no one, they fend themselves but I kept my mouth shut.

I was a committed NHS person, always gave more hours than I received in pay, I have the belief we have a duty to give as much as we can, its better than simply taking. I love my job, but this experience challenges my loyalty, I feel like telling it to them all straight, you could have done this better it didn’t have to be like this, just a 12 week catalogue of disasters where opportunities were given to improve, and they were simply missed. I’m not looking for blame just improvement and change to ensure people learn by experience and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

I tell the nurse that announcing that my grandfather has MRSA with other visitors present is not acceptable. Her words are that X told me to tell you that you need to have pinnies on. I will not name the nurse, its part of a culture so hardly her fault. I cannot be rational at the moment. I tell X he can tell Jim Mackay after tonight’s episode forget talking, I’m too upset and emotional to deal with this right now. Angry isn’t the word. I’m devastated.

I go back to check on granddad he’s brightened up since the drip has started working his eyes are open, he winked at me and I got a smile when I told him I would be back. I held back the tears until I got in my car then I could not hold them back any longer, when will this nightmare end for us both?

24th May 2009

There’s no fight left in me today, I hold grandad’s hand its as if we have both given up.

25th May 2009

7:11 am I get a call to say granddad has deteriorated further I need to go in. There is nowhere for my granddad to die with dignity, there are no spare side wards. I am shown the plan of the ward and asked to pick a corner. I picked the corner that would be the least disruptive to other patients. Being asked to pick a corner for my grandfather to die in, what has happened to dignity? Those words haunt me to this day.

Dr explains that Granddad is to be put on the dying patients care pathway, I ask if they can allow him to go home to die, But granddad died later that day at 5:11pm during tea time and visiting behind a curtain. I said my good byes, I’m numb and my heart is broken.

12 weeks of hell behind me leads a two year wait for an inquest.

I believe it’s not an isolated case, it’s the norm. I say ask the 2500 members of Cure the NHS North East.



5 years ago I was an inhabitant of Ward1 for 6 months.Sent to Wansbeck for complicated hip surgery I had a “pacer” fitted whilst biopsy reports were pending. developed horrific bed sores (photos taken) and MRSA and sent back to Ward1 until safe to have the op.I received excellent attention and care from everyone,Staff, Medics, Cleaners ,Pet dog,Physios!!!Pharmasists ,Occupational Therapists etc.As I was flat on my back most of the time I appreciated all the care and expertise and humour too. Since then I was on ICU and Ward 2for a short time.. same care and attention. So why this message (having discovered I can send one?) I now attend 2 Clinics, Warfarin,regularly, and every 2 years or so,Orthopaedic. and my comment… seating in the waiting area at Hexham General..I know that a lot of outpatients at those Clinics find it extremely difficult to use those low sofa seats. I know there are a few higher chairs..yesterday only two, and I know others have commented I use 2 sticks to get about and can just manage to get up from the low seats but so many have a real struggle, and many at those clinics are elderly. One could fetch seats from the cafeteria but I don’t think that would be popular! This is my only complaint .We are so lucky to have such an excellent hospital ..I owe it so much.


Excellent care at Wansbeck General

My mother unfortunately suffered a major stroke whilst staying with us at the New Year.

Further to contacting the emergency services, the ambulance was at our property within approximately 10 minutes of the call and immediately commenced the required medical procedure.

From arriving at Wansbeck General A&E, the care that my mother received and the kindness shown to us as her family was tremendous. All staff, although very busy, kept us fully informed from the outset with regard to her condition.

She was transferred to Sunderland Royal Hospital yesterday, since this is where she would have been taken if she had been unwell whilst at home. We only hope that her excellent care continues now that she has been transferred.

Unfortunately, the only time the general public hear about hospitals and care received is via the press (and it is invariably bad press). I would like to take this opportunity to ensure that senior officers within Northumberland PCT are aware of our gratitude and appreciation to all of the staff we encountered – the Ambulance crew, A&E, M.A.U & all staff on ward 9, including the ladies who deliver the drinks & meals and those who keep the ward scrupulously clean.

They have all, without exception, continually shown professionalism within their individual roles and responsibilities; care and empathy along with excellent customer care skills, and they should be commended for this.


My experience of the Endoscopy Department at Wansbeck Hospital

After two years of ill health and mis-diagnosis I was eventually referred to the Endoscopy Department at Wansbeck Hospital by my GP Practice. Colon cancer was discovered and right from that moment the level of support, commitment and professionalism from every member of the Team has been, and continues to be, outstanding.

First, I must pay tribute to the staff on the Endoscopy Unit. They were brilliant and managed to combine patient dignity and the serious issue of investigation with gently humour. This put me at ease and was instrumental in helping me cope with what was to come.

Following recovery from the colonoscopy, a nurse specialist Barbara was at my bedside to discuss findings. She was compassionate yet totally professional. The time she gave in helping me come to terms with the outcome and to ask questions was hugely beneficial and reassuring. She and the other colorectal nurse specialist have been brilliant from day one. The region is lucky to have such dedication and commitment. Perhaps it would also be pertinent at this stage to say how helpful and informative the various booklets have been – vital reference material written in a straightforward and accessible style. Telephone support has also been outstanding.

Staff on Ward 4 could not have worked harder to aid my recovery through what was a challenging and drawn out process. Despite being rushed off their feet, they managed to deliver a high standard of care and encouraged me every step of the way.

The Oncology Day Unit staff are second to none. I will never be able to thank them enough. They go the extra mile, and without exception, every one of them has the rare talent of being able to nurse professionally but love humanly.

The consultant surgeon and oncologist were also first-rate and must be commended for heading up such outstanding teams of dedicated people. Every one of them walk into peoples’ lives and make a difference.

Despite the difficulties and challenges health service staff face, the Team strives to give a joined-up care experience to patients and in my experience this is achieved admirably.


A multitude of errors

I underwent a routine vaginal hysterectomy last year. I was lying back in the ward after surgery when my sister-in-law came to visit me. She was shocked to discover that I had lay there for almost 4 hours without any observations having been carried out. She immediately asked for observations to be done where they discovered my pulse, blood pressure and heart rate were going haywire. It was discovered that the surgeon had severed an artery. I was rushed back into theatre for repair and received 5 pints of blood as I’d been bleeding internally. I came round again in the ward in the middle of the night to find a lot of staff standing round my bed. Apparently I’d been overdosed on morphine and had to be given some form of anti-dote. I struggled to breathe and had to be given oxygen periodically for the next 2 days. Almost 9 weeks later and I’m still in pain, have no energy and have started suffering panic attacks. I should have been back to work 2 weeks ago but I just can’t manage. The consultants reply was to say to me these things happen.


I have faith in the NHS but my experience was a total shambles

I had to be at Wansbeck for 4pm in March to be ready for a hysterectomy on the Friday morning. I arrived at the due time & I felt like I was totally ignored. It was when the tea trolley came around about 5.30 that I was asked if I was a patient. I was then given a bed but told I may get moved as the ward was full or have to make the 1 hour drive back home & return in the morn for 7.30. I then had some tea & thought I would get some kind of an admission i.e. weight taken a wrist band put on but none of this happened. At about 10.30 I asked if I would be moved but it turned out that there was no notes for me & no one knew what I was even in for. I was told I would be staying there as the other ward would not accept me without notes. On the Friday morning my notes still had not turned up and one of the doctors asked if I was in for a stomach biopsy so I put the record straight. I was taken to theater at 11.50 and they were not very happy coz I still did not have a number on my wrist band. Op went well & post op was excellent all staff treated me with kindness & respect nothing was a trouble for them.

A doctor came to see me on the Sunday & said I could probably be discharged on the Monday but he then realised that I was booked for a rapid access clinic on the Tuesday morn as he thought that my belly was a bit white and felt cold (I still have not been to it) In my opinion no one seemed to have any idea what or where it was. I did get discharged but could not be given any medication as there was no doctor to prescribe any for me. These people have a lot to deal with but I think my experience was a total shambles but I do still have faith in the NHS. I think on the whole it is an amazing organisation it just requires some organising.

ally j

Maternity care at Wansbeck hospital

I had my third child last year and have said since that if ever i had another child it would NOT be at Wansbeck.

I felt that the midwifes did not have time for us. I was induced and it was a long process. I was sent in for induction by the consultant and due to loss of water at 37 weeks – 4 days earlier than my original induction date due to high BP because I had been losing water for a couple of days the consultant wanted me in asap.

The midwives could not find anything in my notes about the water loss so seemed to be treating me as if i was been induced for blood pressure. I thought all they had to do was look through my notes properly!

Anyway my baby was born 2 days later, in distress and making a funny noise when breathing. The midwives dismissed this even though he ended up going into special care that night.

When home he continued making these noises and 2 weeks later ended up in the RVI where the doctor picked up on this noise straight away saying it was because he was having problems breathing. A week later he was discharged happy and healthy thankfully.

I feel like Wansbeck really do not listen to anything you have concerns about at all, due to staff shortages. Health care assistants were sent to answer buzzers which needed a midwife’s attention therefore meaning you had to wait longer while she went to get a midwife. I could go on and on, but basically, would not choose this hospital to give birth in again.

dissapointed mum

I felt like the maternity staff did not care

Went in to the Wansbeck last November to have my baby, found the staff rude and unhelpful. Was just left to get on with it my sheets were covered in blood I asked for clean ones and I’m still waiting!! staff said I couldn’t have a wash I felt dirty and was left for 2 days without having a bath. I couldn’t get out of bed due to severe blood loss when I was in labour.

I was ready to push and the midwife just walked away and said the baby wasn’t coming it would be midnight before she was here. 3 minutes later she was delivered, this is my third baby so I knew what I was doing. Felt like they couldn’t be bothered and didn’t really care. In which case they are in the wrong job! After my experience, if I ever have another baby it will not be at this hospital.


Mistakes led to my son’s death

In November of last year my son had a routine Hernia operation at Hexham hospital, everything went well but he was very sore after. Our nightmare started just over a week later.

He was in a lot of pain but we had been told to expect this from the hospital, we realised he had lost some weight and when I asked him about it he said he felt sick when he thought of food – this from someone that could have eaten a horse had you put salt and pepper on it.

The following day we picked him up from his flat that he shared with his girlfriend, he looked terrible. He sat down and he really was moaning with pain. I told him I was ringing the GP who arrived 20 minutes later. He looked at my son and told me he was sending him to hospital. He gave me a note which stated that my son had a blood clot and he rang the ambulance which arrived about 30 minutes later.

It took the paramedics 15 minutes to get him into the ambulance as he was in so much pain, we had gone about 5 min and the paramedic in the back with us told the driver to put the blue lights on. I noticed my son’s arm had gone limp and he was being worked on – the driver was told to get us there as quickly as poss and to have the resus team ready. I was in a state of sheer panic by this time. They got my son round and he turned around and said ‘Mam I thought I had died’. He was crying and so was I.

We eventually got to Wansbeck where my son was taken into resus. I was allowed in after 15 minutes. My son still looked ill but the colour had returned to his face. He told me to stop crying. I was told they had given him morphine and had done a couple of tests.

About an hour later a Consultant came to seem my son, he told me my son was a fit young lad and he was not worried about him. I replied that I was very worried. I asked what they were going to do, he told me they were going to top my son’s pain relief up and send him home in a couple of hours. I was mortified and told him I did not agree with that and that my son had vomited blood and could not eat properly. He relented and they kept him in over night. He was put on a ward and his girlfriend and I went with him. He was really hot and asked his girlfriend to take his jogging pants off but to be careful as his legs were very sore. We mentioned this to a nurse but she just said ok.

When we were leaving my son was becoming agitated again and I was worried he may stop breathing like he had in the ambulance. I stood 15 minutes trying to get the attention of the nurses who I overheard discussing their social life. I told them I was worried and they said they would see to him. I wasn’t convinced so I rang my son when I got home, he said he was tired because they had given him codeine so I wished him goodnight.

The following day I rang my son in the morning. He said he was still tired. I told him I would see him later, and I rung the ward and asked how he had been. They told me he had had a comfortable night.

I visited my son in the afternoon, his girlfriend was already there and was told they were discharging him. I wasn’t happy about this and expressed my opinion to the Dr who replied by saying that I could probably look after him better at home. I was gobsmacked.

Anyway we came home but he vomited nearly all the way home. I said I would take him back in to Wansbeck. He replied by telling me I should stop being obsessive and that they had told him there was nothing wrong with him.

He still could not eat properly and remained ill but had picked up slightly. At the beginning of December we had an appt with the doctor who told my son he was not going to examine him because ‘he didn’t look well’. His weight had been taken on the back in November before this appointment and he had been 12 stone 7. On this day, only 2-3 weeks on, he was 10 stone 2. We came out of the hospital and I made an appt at our GPs where he was given antibiotics.

The following day my son rang and asked me to make him steak, chips and onions for his dinner. I was over the moon at last he was eating. We went out Christmas shopping and had a lovely day, his girlfriend rang that night to say he had never stopped eating, I was so pleased and went to bed happy for the first time in days.

Two days later, my son rang to say he had a sore leg so me and his dad went round. I told him I would ring the Dr but he told me not to, he said he was going to have a bath and see if it helped. As we left the flat he was lying in the bath we were all laughing. He told us he would see us later and that he loved us, we shouted back that we loved him too.

It was the last time we saw our beloved son alive, he died just after 3 o’clock. We couldn’t believe our normally 6ft 5ins fit and healthy son had gone.

A police guard was put on his body in the morgue plus someone from Hexham hospital. No one could go and see him unless they were on a list. All his files were seized from Wansbeck.

A post mortem showed that the blood clot had been dated to that first incident where he was taken in by ambulance. No one would sign a death certificate which we assumed was because mistakes had been made.

A senior police officer came to see us and said that he normally dealt with murders or manslaughter cases but had been told to do ours. There were two postmortems, both were the same and dated the blood clot at the same date as the first. We had a meeting with the CEO, but all we got out of him was a sorry.

An independent investigation was done which highlighted 18 mistakes had been made because the police seized all the paper work – it was all down in black and white.

We had the inquest in early 2011, a narrative verdict was given. When asked about the abnormal ECG we were told it was probably because my son was tall and thin, but that the machine did not work properly anyway. Another Dr, who discharged my son without reading his notes or seeing him and sent him home with a news score of 4.5 (which is critical) was asked what role was his at Wansbeck, he replied he didn’t know. It was a catalogue of errors which cost my son his life.

When a Dr was asked why the pathway wasn’t followed he argued it was, he was then asked if that was the case why did my son not have the CT scan. After 5 minutes of arguing he said that my son wasn’t given the scan because he could have got cancer in later life. An expert witness Dr said that my son could have been saved if they had given him the scan.

To my understanding, the Consultant had overruled the GP’s letter, an xray showing a patch on my son’s lung which was marked by the radiologist, a raised D.Dimer reading and a junior Dr saying he thought it was a blood clot. This was the same member of staff that flippantly told me “Your son is a young fit lad and I am not worried about him”.


Wansbeck Hospital A&E and Children’s Unit

My daughter attended Wansbeck A&E after breaking her arm. She was seen swiftly in A&E and immediately transferred to the Childrens Unit. In the Unit she had good attention from the nurses and the nurse practitioner and they quickly provided pain relief and arranged for her to be put in a plaster. A quick visit (only a short wait) to Xray and then she was seen by the Orthopaedic doctor who arranged for her to have an operation the next morning. The next day we came back to the Children’s Unit for pre-op – again the nurses were great and the anaesthetist was friendly, reassuring and funny to put her at ease. The porters and theatre staff were good and the operation was a success. And finally the plaster technicians were great and made sure her plaster was comfortable. All round excellent service.

Happy Dad