Treatment delivered with care at a time of great stress

We were on holiday when my mum took ill and we had to call 999.

We cannot thank enough the people who delivered care to our mum so quickly, from the staff in A/E to Ward D56 and then onto City Hospital. Diagnosis was so quick and treatment delivered with such care and compassion at a time of great stress for us as a family.

We are eternally grateful.


Missed diagnosis at Chichester Hospital, great care elsewhere.

My husband had a suspected TIA in December 2011. He underwent various tests including an echocardiogram. Cardiologist wanted to do angiogram but we had no confidence in him so we paid to go privately to have a CT angiogram. On receipt of this report at NHS hospital close to us my husband saw a different consultant. His greeting was “Why are you here? “He didn’t seem to have the vaguest idea as to what was wrong even though he must have seen that my husband had a heart murmur. Had he read the CT report? Anyway he decided that there was nothing to be done.

In July 2012 I dialled 999 and my husband was taken back to this hospital and was diagnosed as having had a heart attack. It was now necessary to have an angiogram performed by a cardiologist. Thankfully this hospital said they no longer performed such procedures and he was transferred to Worthing Hospital. They immediately said he hadn’t had a heart attack and decided to redo all the tests. They diagnosed severe aortic stenosis. It was so severe that he was transferred to Brighton Hospital within a few days where they operated giving him a mechanical aortic valve. The medical care at both Worthing and Brighton was fantastic. They saved my husband’s life and now he is fully recovered.

We looked at our copy of CT report from December 2011 that stated that my husband had aortic stenosis! I am absolutely furious with our local hospital and wonder how many more people have been treated so badly.

Patient Activist

Thank you to the staff at Barnsley District General

I have recently been treated for unstable angina. Nine years ago I had a treble by pass which has been very successful. In November 2008, I had an angina attack and called 999. An ambulance arrived within 10minutes. The care and attention I received was excellent. I was in hospital for a week and have nothing but admiration for the team of doctors and nurses who looked after me. Thank you Barnsley General.


Stopped in my tracks

It came out of the blue, one minute I was traveling as a passenger in one of my sons car with a clear view around me, the next my right arm went stiff, my hand felt like “a club” with the fingers curled up and everything went “hay wire”, my eyes went hazy, the world was “swishing by” trees, leaves, cars, you name it, all were passing by like arrows shot from a bow at the pace of a rocket. It was like a nightmare, the world had gone mad. At the time, I was awaiting a cornea graft in my left eye and the removal of cataracts from both eyes. At first I thought this condition was to blame, but why had my right arm gone stiff. The next event I remember was my son and wife deciding to go back home despite me saying I would be alright, as we were on our way to Stratford on Avon and had only just reached Loughborough.

We soon returned home. I got out of the car. I felt ‘as sick as a dog’ and I went in doors and laid on the bed, my head was going round in circles. My wife then phoned 999. The paramedics wired me up and took me to an NHS drop in centre, by this time I understood what was going on around me. I was examined by a doctor who diagnosed a mini stroke. He booked me into a clinic at the city hospital the following day.

The next day one of my sons took me and my wife to the hospital and after seeing a doctor I was admitted to hospital for further tests and assessments, which resulted in eight days in hospital to determine the extent of the problem which caused the stroke. My spell in hospital was a series of dizzy spells, hallucinations, tests and still more tests. In the course of the next few hours I found myself in bed and dozing when ceiling appeared to have writing on it in the form of tables some of which I could read. I woke up to be amazed as the tables appeared very cleat, was I seeing things, was there writing on the ceiling? The next thing I saw was sand floating down from the ceiling, then spray which I thought was water and tried to feel it. Then sand and soil on the floor on the floor some of which fell out of what few garments I had on. When my wife arrived I told her what I was seeing and she said there was nothing there. I was moved into another hospital ward where I thought I was in a boiler room it did not look or feel like a ward. It was a weird experience.

I saw models of people wrapped in cloth, who if touched would turn into soil and run out on to the floor. I tried to touch some but could not reach was I asleep or awake I will never know. The above continued whilst I was in hospital and as the days went by it continued together with pictures and an occasional mirage, I was floating through the air in some form of transport passing over a lake on which a pleasure boat was operating. It was all very real and I felt a new world had dawned. The pictures were all in colour mostly in locations on the wall like a frame or a hatch, service vent, heater, air circulation duct, lights on the ceiling, changes in the room decorations. All were in bold colours showing cricketers, landscapes, castles, buildings and people at events. The pictures, writing and the mirage would then disappear and the ward was back to normal. At times the beds and other furniture in the ward would change and so would people, it was like a night mare and they lasted all the time I was in the ward. Even when I came home similar things happened and one I will never forget is string and netting coming out of the television, usually from a person’s mouth. These continued over the weekend when back at home. But I cannot remember any more after the weekend.

Although the dizzy spells continued for the first few days in hospital they got less and less by the second day in hospital and I could get around, go for a walk, do exercises, ride and exercise bike, under supervision go for a walk outside and climb up stairs, go for meals (which did much for the reputation of NHS meals) without supervision.

I was in hospital for the eight days and cannot remember the number of scans and assessments, what I do remember were visits from my wife, my three sons and one of my grandsons, his mother and his other grandpa, my brother and his wife, my lifelong school friend and many of the friends we have made over the years. What I do remember was the difficulties I had getting into position for the scans due to my spondylitis. The efforts made by all staff was excellent and they managed to get into position so that the scans were successful. Only one scan was aborted and when the staff were made aware of my problem they got me sorted out. The persistent young doctor who persevered for me to have a scan I shall always be grateful.

The identification of a blockage in the left hand side carotid artery resulted in an appointment at the QMC at 1.00pm on the Tuesday following the bank holiday. In the later stages of Friday I was discharged from the City hospital and spent the bank holiday at home which turned out to be glories sunshine for most of the weekend. On the following Tuesday my wife and I were transported to the QMC by one of our helpful friends who dropped us at the QMC main entrance. On arrival we were interviewed by a consultant who explained my condition. The carotid artery was 80% blocked just prior to where the artery splits in two taking blood to the eyes and the remainder to the brain. She outlined what was required I said I was willing to go ahead and she went away to find out when a bed would be available. On return she said she would like me to be admitted immediately. I had a few more tests and then waited for a bed to be available. My wife stayed with me for most of the time.

The following day I lay in my bed thinking about the day ahead only to find I could have nothing to drink until after the operation. I knew food was a non starter but to miss out on a drink was a bad start to the day. One by one people came and told me what was to happen, in addition to nurses, the anaesthetist and the surgeon came and outlined what was going to happen to me and how the operation would be performed under local anaesthetic. They will open my neck, slit the artery open it and clean out the blockage. Blood will be kept circulating to the brain by the insertion of a tube having clamped the lower and upper artery to keep the area free from blood while the blockage is removed. On completion the artery will be repaired with dissolvable stitches and my skin repaired by the same procedure.

After marks were put on the left hand side of my neck I was told to get undressed and put on a gown, alas, having never worn one before I put on a dressing gown until told by a disgusted nurse I had put on the wrong garment, I then had to change to the type of gown requested. I was taken down on my bed at approximately 10.00am. On arrival I was parked up to wait for further instructions. A nurse then told me she would look after me, gave me further information and asked more questions. I was then asked to climb up some steps onto the operation trolley and waited to be taken I to the operating theatre. After about ten minutes I was taken in to theatre for the action to begin. As soon as I arrived in the theatre action began and my fears evaporated, I felt quite relaxed, the anaesthetist gave me a series of injections in my neck and told me what he was doing plus words of encouragement. If I started to feel pain I must say so and further anaesthetic would be administered.

I was lying on my lower back with my head turned to the right, a painful position for me due to my spondylosis in my neck (since the operation I have not had the same type of pain). The operating team then prepared me for the operation. Throughout the procedure I knew what was happening, especially when the blockage was being removed, clamps removed, stitches inserted, and the skin on my neck being repaired. In fact I thought I overheard adhesive being used. During the procedure I think it hurt on only two occasions. It was a funny experience, nothing like I have ever known before but believe it or not I enjoyed the experience. Afterwards I was taken out of the theatre I was transferred to my bed and taken to a ward where other patients were recovering and being monitored. Here I stayed for just over an hour and I started to feel dizzy. I was taken back to the ward when my blood pressure had dropped and on arrival I was overjoyed to see my wife. The operation had taken two hours plus a further period for recuperation. I was famished and ready for a meal at supper time. After eating I tried to get some sleep but further monitoring, and taking tablets soon put paid to that.

The night that followed was one of the worst I had ever had. I had to sleep on my right hand side with my head turned to the right throughout the night (the opposite I normally sleep). I hardly slept all night, what with the problem of getting comfortable, people talking, yelling out etc. By morning I had hardly had a “wink of sleep”. By the time the doctors came round I felt a lot better and was told the operation had gone well and I could go home. The next six hours were a dream during which time I was sick and vomited my breakfast just as I felt at he lowest my wife arrived and I was transported home by our friend. On arrival I went to bed and slept for the next four hours, I was awakened for something to eat about 6.00pm. The night that followed was a joy sleeping throughout the night, except to take some pain killers in the early hours of the next day.

In the days that followed, I very much appreciated visits from the district nurse, and two members of the county community stroke team. The first was from a speech therapist and the second a physic. The service of all the external support staff was very welcomed and demonstrated the extent of support provided. I soon got back to my exercises and started to feel much better. However, my eyes are worse than before I had the stroke and I had to return to an old pair of glasses from four years ago. I find it difficult to read numbers, names etc and when walking I soon feel dizzy. Hopefully, when I have the operations on my eyes the situation will change as the stroke and the operation has obviously had an effect on my vision. If you are unlucky enough to have a stroke, do as you are told and put your faith in the NHS.

Having had this latest experience of the NHS I must express my appreciation for the service I received when I had a recent stroke. From the paramedics, nurses, doctors, consultants and all auxiliary staff to being released from hospital and when at home the service was of the highest order. The advert on strokes on the television is a great aid to all who need urgent attention. I hope this short article will be of reassurance to anyone who suffers a stroke.


Mother’s treatment at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Saturday afternoon and the beginning of Feb – called ambulance after finding my 75 year old mother, usually alert and mobile (though slow because of recent operation to remove skin carcanoma related to Bohns disease)

Excellent response – I must have sounded panicked as the 999 telephonist stayed on the line with me until firstly a rapid response man arrived – closely followed by 2 paramedics and ambulance.

On arrival at hospital – things started to go wrong

The booking in system though tedious and long did get lots of information – my mother was at this time semi conscious – barely able to sit up in the ambulance chair and just about totally unresponsive –

Firstly – the decision was made to give my mother a gp appointment rather than go to a & e – the ambulance people suggested this would mean we would not have the usual long wait at a & e – – we sat and waited with mum barely conscious and still in the chair and were seen by a gp as promised – who could see immediately that mum was extremely dehydrated and had a high temperature – at this time we were thinking it might possibly be a urine infection – or even that mum had taken too many of her painkillers !

GP decision was that mum be admitted for tests to find out what was wrong –

Secondly – we waited in a public area until the practice nurse on duty (approx between 2 and 3pm and the man behind the desk took pity and moved us and mum into a private (unused overflow ward) – the practice nurse and the clerical officer then took charge and rang many times to try to get a bed so mum could be admitted – in the meantime got a trolley and with help from nurse got her more comfortable – no bed available despite the best these 2 staff members could do –

advice – to go back through a & e – that meant literally starting again – however this was the only ‘choice’

Mid afternoon on a Saturday in a & e- not too busy – apart from the old people on various trolleys and in wheelchairs – It seemed to me that the only ones getting any attention were those lucky enough (like mum) to have family/friends accompanying them.

We were put in a bay and told we would be seen by a doctor soon – time now approx 3.30pm

I am amazed how many staff (green scrubs and a stethoscope around neck – does that mean you are a doctor on duty?) there were at any one time sitting in front of computers, milling about and talking to each other and the other members of staff in various colour uniforms – dark blue, light blue – how are you supposed to know who to go to? Some of the staff didn’t event make eye contact with the patients.

I saw someone (member of public) that I knew with another elderly patient and she suggested I approach the charge nurse – she knows because she is at a & e a lot with this elderly relative – sure enough he was approachable – when asked for a bed pan he said he would sort it out which he did – – however this was not really getting us what we really needed –

a doctor

a bed

a diagnosis

By 6pm a nurse had unsuccessfully tried to take blood from mum –

someone had tried to get her to take some pills

I was joined by another member of the family – this made 3 of us and together we stood in front of the main desk in a & e – and after standing our ground – a doctor came in – and things started to happen – blood tests and at last – fluid – a drip –

this 75 year old woman – found severely dehydrated at 12.30pm was given fluid via a drip some 6+ hours after arriving at hospital.

At 9pm eventually admitted to cdu – excellent treatment and staff – as one would expect –

Sunday – mum totally unresponsive – and asked (not for the first time) if she was ‘always like this’ – the staff did take notice of my response when a told them I had been to collect mum the previous day to go shopping – so no she was not ‘always like this’

Next day – Monday – moved to Ward 8 – really excellent staff again – mum in isolation ward – still not sure why – something to do with her having mrsa – but this didn’t seem to matter the day before or all the time we were in a & e!

We found out sometime during the week that the infection was in the leg where the operation wound was – the wound being treated – dressed three times per week by district nurses – how could they not see on Friday that there was a problem ? This is a topic of a further complaint.

The story could have had a happy ending here as my mum received excellent treatment during the time on cdu and Ward 8 – intravenous antibiotics to clear infection -the staff were also visible and willing to talk to me and other members of the family visiting during the week.

Thirdly – mum discharged 11 days later – leg with wound – red and puffed up but mum satisfied that antibiotics had done their job – because the doctors and nurses seemed satisfied that she was ready to go home

I was not so sure – by weekend foot was red and warm – skin tight – district nurses had been out on Friday – no comment about possible infection – but I could see with my inexpert eye that things were not right-

Monday , after being seen again by a district nurse who would not call the gp herself, mum got gp to come out – gp was concerned – as the leg was clearly infected and as gp stated – the last thing we wanted was for mum to have to return to hospital – so finally further antibiotics have been given – not sure if the outcome of the story yet as the tablets have yet to take effect.


I had all my medication taken after an injury

I was in hospital due to being injured on my mobility scooter in march. I had a water tablet taken from me and with me being diabetic I told the doctor it wasn’t a good idea because I have water retention and I had to have compression dressings on both legs. During the night I had problems breathing. I felt like I was drowning at 3am I phoned 999 for an ambulance and I was admitted again at the beginning of April and I had to stay until the middle of April. During this time I had all my medication taken and I didn’t realise they hadn’t been giving me paroxetine which you’re supposed to be weaned off, but they didn’t give me any for 6 days. I believe this caused me to go into a depression and when I realised I got it back and it got into my system I was fine.


Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome / Gastroparesis

Dear Sirs,

I am unfortunate enough of have suffered from Cyclical Vomiting / Gastroparesis for the last ten years which causes me,   over a number of weeks or months, to build up to an attack of the most painful, debilitating and distressing vomiting accompanied with an all encompassing feeling of the most intense nausea imaginable which I feel through my whole body and renders me barely able to speak or remain coherent.

It took some 6 years to diagnose this illness and finally, over the next couple of years and after trying every kind of treatment, (and discovering I had Bowel Cancer along the way), a Treatment Plan was arrived at consisting of intravenous morphine injections and replacement of fluids.

It was agreed with my consultant that when an attack was under way I should call for an ambulance via 999 and that morphine could be administered immediately on site or en route and repeated as necessary in A&E.

Unfortunately this plan is so far removed from what actually happens when I am at my most vulnerable, in the height of one of these attacks.   The very second that the word morphine is mentioned I am almost invariably treated like I am a drug addict looking for a free fix.   I have experienced this from both the ambulance crews and the hospital staff.

The problem became so bad that my GP agreed to write an open letter to all concerned explaining my condition,   the treatment required and the need for expediency.

This letter has helped on occasion and every time I have been admitted I have handed a copy of the letter to the attending staff in A&E who say they will put it on file.   This seems to have never happened as unfortunately the most recent time I required treatment I failed to take a copy with me.   Fortunately I am now known to many of the ambulance crews and am usually treated with respect, compassion and professionalism.   However on the last occasion, despite his best attempts, the paramedic was unable to get a cannula in on the ambulance – I have notoriously deep buried veins.   Despite my pain and distress I reassured the ambulance man that I would be ok until I arrived at A&E.

On arrival at A&E I was stretchered into a cubical and left there, unattended and untreated for a good two hours before the pain and nausea became so overwhelming that I began to scream in pain.   I had now been ill for seven hours. To scream in pain,   knowing the whole of A&E could hear me is the most degrading experience imaginable.    I ended up screaming for almost an hour before a doctor came.   During this time I was accused of being aggressive and selfish when I suggested they were treating me like an animal, and one male nurse took it upon himself to tell me that the treatment was free to the user so what was I moaning at!   The truth is, I was treated worse than an animal as an animal would have been put out of it’s misery long before it was left in such distress for three hours or more.   If I had been treated promptly,   my pain and nausea would’ve  been stopped immediately and with one or two further injections the whole episode could have been terminated.   Instead,   the episode lasted eight or nine hours and I was so ill I had to stay on a ward overnight and then suffer for days with very painful pulled muscles and absolute fatigue. I cannot overstate how very ill and desperate this condition makes me feel.   I do not expect to have to spend what little energy I have left trying to convince medical personnel that I have a legitimate need for morphine and am not a drug fiend, but this is invariably what happens and is typical of most of the visits I have encountered at Queens’ A&E.

This is just the latest horror story in a long line,   believe me I could go on and on,   but seriously,   enough is enough.   This poor standard of care really must not be allowed to carry on.   I feel so desperately let down by the Queens Medical Centre and it has now come to the point that I am so frightened at the thought of how poorly I will be treated that rather than daring to call 999 I have begun to consider taking my own life – it really is that appalling.

The main problem would appear to be with my notes.   The fact that it seems to take hours to locate them and when they do arrive the treatment plan is not prominently displayed where it can easily be seen but buried deep within the file if there at all.   Moreover,   the “Recent Correspondence” section on my file is populated with documents five or six years old which pre-date the current treatment plan and are not relevant or helpful.   The above mentioned letter from my GP, despite being handed in every time I have visited the hospital since it was written is also nowhere to be seen.

The second problem is with the staff – doctors and nurses – who are far too easily prepared to categorise me as a junky rather than recognise that I am a very ill person with a serious illness who desperately wants to be relieved from pain and distress.

I have plenty of constructive criticism to offer and can assure you that I am  a very reasonable person,   who does not expect the earth but does expect to be treated with respect and compassion,   both of which have been sadly lacking in my extensive experience.

I hope and trust that I will receive a prompt reply and that action will be taken before I become ill again.


Lack of respect in casualty at Derbyshire Royal Infirmary

I went to the DRI as a 999 from my own hospital in Ilkeston. It was quite busy when i arrived. i was suffering from chest pains. I was waiting for a bed when a male (not nurse) but a member of staff came and shown me to a cubicle where he drew the curtains around me and asking my husband to stay outside while he gave me a ECG.

Now this is my complaint: he told me to take my bra off so he could do the ECG but the pads was still on from the hospital, where i did not have to take my bra off and also when i was in the ambulance when they gave me a ECG so therefore what made it different with him?

I’m 37 yrs old and have large breasts. i felt uncomfortable but you just go along with it. if this is normal procedure surely there should have been a female there. he did rub against me when he put the clips which he could have done with my bra on. My husband was fuming but did not say anything as his main concern was me.


Great care for an emergency procedure at Darent Valley

Recently, I had to cut short my night shift at work due to excruciating pain & (when I tried to use the toilet) rectal bleeding and abdominal swelling. This pain became so much that I eventually called 999, as I believed I would soon become unable to do so.

A paramedic swiftly arrived, examined me and delivered me to Darent Valley Hospital, Dartford at about 11pm.

My agony didn’t end immediately in A&E but when they had a good idea of the problem I was suffering from everything moved with suitable urgency. Antibiotics and pain relief were administered & I was transferred to a ward & to the surgical team for further tests and treatment.

At about 3pm the following day, after a CT Scan, I was informed that I would need an emergency procedure for a perforated colon and would likely end up with a (hopefully reversible) stoma & colostomy bag, etc. When they said “emergency” they really meant it!

I was actually in less pain at this time than I had been on arrival, and when I was in A&E, so I was well enough to walk (with drip in tow) to a room where my mobile would work in order to let my boss know that I would be out of action for a while …when I returned to my bed I found an impatient consultant surgeon, doctor, anaesthetist & stoma nurse all waiting to have very brief conversations with me.

If there’s an advantage to undergoing this sort of procedure as an emergency it’s that you don’t have any time to worry about the surgery, the consequences of surgery, life with a stoma or any of that stuff. You’re simply immediately and hugely grateful that all these people have come together to (potentially & hopefully) save your life!

Since I’m writing this, you’ll have guessed that save my life is exactly what they did.

At the time I was going through all this I’d never heard of this procedure but I was told it was “major surgery”, neither did I have any knowledge of the Surgical Consultant Petr Hanek and his team. I now know that Mr Hanek is very highly regarded and feel very fortunate to have been under the care of him, his team, the anaesthetists and everyone involved in my surgery.

After the surgery I remained at Darent Valley Hospital (Rowan Ward) for about ten days during which my pain decreased and my mobility increased.

The story isn’t over yet as I haven’t been out of hospital long and my recovery is ongoing with the welcome assistance of the “Bridging Team” and Jane and Annalyn, the ever helpful Stoma Nurses.

Maggie Bray is the Senior Sister on Rowan Ward, where I recovered after the procedure. I did tell her before leaving and I feel I should repeat here how grateful to and impressed by all of the ward staff I am.

All of the nurses, nursing assistants and student nurses were not only helpful but also caring & considerate at all times. The non medical support staff (those who distribute meals and do the cleaning) were also kind and helpful.

Considering the negative publicity which sections of the NHS are (presumably quite rightly) attracting at the moment I feel that the good practice and culture of genuine care I observed and benefited from at Darent Valley should be recognised and encouraged elsewhere.


Very bad back pain

For four weeks I was having strong pains in my right shoulder blade. My doctor prescribed tablets and said it maybe appropriate for me to see a physiotherapist. On Saturday 2nd May, I experienced more pain which had now spread to my middle back (later moving to my left shoulder blade) and each time I tried to stand up, I was passing out. At around 8.45pm I dialled 999 and a medic and ambulance arrived quickly. At the Northern General A&E department I was seen by a nurse and I think two doctors who all asked me a lot of questions and did various tests. As I needed to remove most of my clothing and had to put on an apron, I was extremely cold especially my feet. I am 74 years old, this cannot be right. Much later after my x-rays and a dose of morphine I was removed to the medical assessment unit. I was extremely thirsty and quite hungry (nothing to eat since 2pm the Saturday afternoon) but I could not have anything until seen by another doctor which was about 4am. As I twice complained about the cold I was finally given a blanket. I waited most of Sunday fro permission to go home and for more tablets. During my 24hour stay in hospital I tried to keep a check on the cleanliness of the staff but I did not see evidence of it in a number of cases. The ward floor was swept but the person doing it did not brush under the beds.