Very caring staff, but could possibly have been clearer about my father’s prognosis

My father was recently admitted to St James’s, having been transferred there from his nursing home. He had lost a lot of weight, was weak and dehydrated. He was swiftly moved to ward 16 where he seemed to be very well looked after.

When my father’s condition deteriorated, the family was contacted so someone could be with him as he neared his end. The nurse who spoke to me on the phone was very kind and caring but she only described symptoms and the hospital’s actions rather than being clear about the fact that he was unlikely to survive more than a couple of hours. Fortunately my job has put me in a position where I speak with senior nurses regularly, including about issues like this – so I understood what to expect when I got the the hospital. I am concerned that someone who has less experience of communicating with hospitals might not have properly understood the severity of Dad’s situation.

Unfortunately I had a long and slow drive to get to the hospital (Manchester to Leeds in rush-hour traffic) and Dad had died before I was able to get to him (other family members had got there more quickly). Because of my knowledge, I was prepared for the sad news when I did arrive and again, the nursing staff were very caring and keen to ensure that I was OK. I am concerned that someone who did not understand the implications of the symptoms as described (and actions taken) might have had a very difficult shock when they arrived.

I believe that the hospital I work with most closely through my job did some research with relatives about end of life care and the strong message from this was that if people are told things like ‘He’s very ill and we’ve had to move him onto x course of treatment’ they tend to assume that there’s still a strong chance of recovery whereas if they were told that the person was not expected to recover and may only last a few more hours, this helped the relatives to prepare for the death. I wonder if this is something that has been considered at St James’s.


Care and compassion shown to my father

I would just like to express my thanks for the care and compassion shown to my father on a recent trip to the QEII in Welwyn Garden City. Following a cardiac episode he was seen by he GP who referred him to the QEII. He has long standing chronic issues, as well as cancer.

He was triaged promptly and the medical and nursing staff were professional and supportive at all times during his whole stay. The young Irish nurse in the Clinical Decsion Unit was lovely and the young doctors and registrar treated my father with dignity and respect. They took time to explain what they were doing and kept us informed.

He is a colourful character and can be quite loud as he is deaf and has lost his hearing aid. Everyone took the time to listen to him and share a few words and support.

The only thing which was slightly jarring note was the radio which was on in the background until I turned if off. I was not clear who it was for and as my father is hard of hearing this made some communication difficult.

This is the third time the QEII have supported and saved my fathers life he is very thankful for thier continuing support and kindness. He hopes he won’t see them again anytime soon!

Please pass these comments to the whole team and our thanks for all the work they do to support people such as my father.

Thankful relative

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.


Felt there was a lack of attention by staff in A&E

I received a call saying that my mother was in A&E after having a fit at her home. My father had called an ambulance, but was in shock and at home.

I travelled in and met up with my sister and father. On arrival my mother was on her own in a typical A&E cubical. She was weak. She started to throw up thick green bile. Only because we were there were we able to deal with the situation otherwise she might have been covered in her own vomit.

My mother was concious and communicating. The decision was made to have her head x-rayed to see if there was pressure on her brain. She was suffering from colon cancer and acute liver cancer, and the fear was it had spread.

Whilst waiting in the corridor of the x-ray dept I noticed the drip that had been put in had come out and the saline was pouring out onto her – I don’t recall if it was re-attached. Not long after whilst waiting on the trolley she had a second fit – again we were the only people there to help deal with it and call for assistance. If we hadn’t been there then she would have been all alone.

I’m not saying the outcome would have been any different, but I just don’t accept that she didn’t deserve a nurse to attend her in this most difficult of times. Yes it was a very busy evening, but we feel that having such an apparently low level of staff as to warrant leaving critically ill people unattended around the hospital is unacceptable. As it is we have all been traumatised by the sequence of events that unfolded. We have been left with the nagging doubts in our mind – would the saline drip had made a difference, could anything different have been done if she had been under the observation of trained staff?

She went in poorly, but not at deaths door, and never made it out – one thing led to another and she suffered terminal brain damage, so bad we had to eventually switch the life support machine off. 2 weeks prior she had been travelling the Middle East.

Broken Hearted Son

A lack of regard for people as individuals

My dad was admitted to D3 Royal Blackburn Hospital in September. I could write a book about his ‘care’ and treatment from the NHS since June last year, but am not going into detail at this point as I do not wish to prejudice any future investigations. However I have read other reports about this ward and feel I have to add my views.

My dad was told that his condition was progressive and that there was nothing more medically to be done. Looking back I believe he was then ‘written off’. In late Oct we were told he could be discharged and arranged nursing care. A nurse told us she would do his continuing health care form but that it was ‘a big job’ and she couldn’t promise to do it quickly – three weeks later, after some pushing from us, it was done.

In that time my dad was in bed, catheterised, often without pyjama trousers, often wearing hospital issue pyjama tops, whilst having at least 4 pairs of his own in his cupboard. He would tell us he was cold but daren’t ask for extra blankets because he was made to feel like a nuisance. He told me there was one nurse he really didn’t like but wouldn’t tell me who or why because he was afraid what might happen when we weren’t there.

One day, as he was falling asleep I gave him a pot to put his bottom teeth in as they were falling out. I left the pot on his cabinet. A few days later he began to complain about not enjoying his food, I asked him where his teeth where – he didn’t know. I found the teeth, in the pot without water, at the back of his drawer – now my dad was bed bound so he couldn’t have put them there, nor could he get out of bed to find them. I left them on his table. The next day they had disappeared.

My mother, my brothers and myself asked staff on at least five occasions to look for them – dad was at this point having difficulty eating and wasn’t enjoying his food – coincidence? – not according to the staff on D3, some of whom thought the loss of teeth was funny. At no time did anyone ever attempt to find them, fobbing us off with ‘we can’t do anything at weekend’! At the end of my tether at what I was beginning to believe was neglect I emailed the Chief Executive -the teeth appeared the next day – coincidence? They were on the ward all along in a pot marked ‘lost teeth’. Disgraceful. They probably would still be there if I hadn’t sent that email.

My dad had his own nivea shaver but was shaved with a cheap disposable razor – no one ever bothered to take his own razor out of the drawer for him and give it him to shave himself.

His care plan mentioned spiritual needs – no one bothered to ask him about these, despite my mum asking for a priest to visit on the day he was admitted. We eventually found the priest who told us that as staff don’t have faith themselves they often disregard patients faith and spiritual needs – that is wrong and just further confirms my belief that patients coming to the end of their life are not seen as individuals to be cared for and respected.

We finally managed to reach a day for discharge – it was a fiasco and very traumatic. Dad was ill and it was touch and go whether he would be discharged. We arrived at 2pm to find him on a stretcher with ambulance crew ready to take him to the nursing home. I went with him. He does not remember much about the journey but he does remember a quite distressing part of it, which at the time, being in a daze as we were literally pushed off the ward, I had not noticed he had no trousers on, or not even socks to keep his feet warm. My 85 year father was discharged from ward D3 and sent halfway across town in November without trousers or socks and just a blanket covering him. He was neglected, his basic care needs were not addressed, his dignity was disregarded, all because someone could not be bothered.

My dad does not remember the journey, but he does remember and is very aware that he has been left without trousers very often whilst on ward D3. This distresses him, he thought it was because he had no clean clothes, and is now constantly asking us where his clean trousers are.

Thankfully we got dad out of that ward. He is now in a nursing home where he is getting real care by people who really do care about him. For the first time in a lot of weeks I have peace of mind when I leave him, knowing he will be helped to eat and drink if needed – not left to starve and dehydrate if he can’t do it himself, that he can ask for anything he wants without fear of being made to feel a nuisance, and most importantly that he has peace of mind.

My dad is an intelligent, very tolerant man, with an extremely heightened sense of justice and fair play. He is not one to complain loudly, and is of a generation which believed nurses and doctors were authority figures. In recent months his body has begun to let him down, but his mind remained as sharp as ever – he has battled to keep it that way, but his care on Ward D3 has contributed to distress and confusion.

I believe that had we not moved dad to a nursing home when we did, he would have died on ward D3 in the last few days.

I intend to pursue my complaints about D3 for the sake of other patients who may not have anyone to speak up for them. My daughter overheard two staff discussing a patient who had been readmitted – ‘oh for **** sake, he’s back. He gets on my bloody nerves’. Would you want to be cared for by them? I know I wouldn’t.


Small acts of compassion make such a huge difference

My Dad recently passed away on Ridgeway Ward. He had been in Chesterfield Royal for 4 weeks after losing his swallow function due to a stroke. Throughout his time on the ward, his care was exceptional and thorough. They tried everything they could to treat his condition including giving him physio on his throat and feeding him through a tube directly into his stomach.

He responded to antibiotics after his first chest infection. Unfortunately his throat was very open and saliva getting on to his chest meant he got into a vicious circle of constant chest infections. Ultimately he couldn’t recover from this.

Discussions with family about decisions about do not resuscitate and the end of life care pathway were handled thoughtfully and sensitively by all staff involved. They put Dad in a side room and put another bed in there so Mum got to spend his last 6 nights with him. The staff were hugely attentive to Mum and made sure she had constant cups of tea and coffee and meals. She wasn’t very hungry one morning and only wanted a banana so they rang around to find one for her. The very next morning they remembered this and made sure one was available for her. Another morning, they asked her what she wanted and she joked she wanted a full English breakfast and a staff member who is apparently well known on the ward for her resourcefulness immediately came back with one for her.

During such a trying time, my Mum did manage to cause hilarity on the ward. She was popping home one morning and absentmindedly was trying to leave the ward with her slippers on. A staff member witnessed this and thought she was a patient trying to escape. They took her to one side and asked her what she was doing. She said “I’m going home” and a doctor later told her she had made her laugh for being arrested as an absconding patient!

We have to make special mention of a staff member at Cafe Royal at the rear entrance of the hospital. She was a middle aged lady with dark hair. We were going for a coffee whilst they gave dad a wash. She saw from our indecision at the counter how upset we were and she couldn’t have been more compassionate. She came up and offered to put food aside for our lunch and she even gave us some cake to cheer us up. We saw her the next day and she said hello and said she was glad to see us again as she knew that meant Dad was still with us. Finally just after Dad died, we were leaving the hospital for the last time and she was on duty again. She gave Mum a hug and consoled her that Dad hadn’t left her and told all she needed to do was throw a pebble in water and see the ripple and that was a sign he was there. Some people say that angels are the people you meet in life who show you random acts of kindness. This lady is indeed a true angel.

When Dad died, he was surrounded by his wife and children. His passing was very peaceful and pain free. This is due to the fantastic efforts of Mr Naylor, Emily and other doctors and all the wonderful nursing staff and care assistants on Ridgeway Ward. They are all a credit to their profession and their kindness and compassion made a horrendously sad time easier to endure. Thank you so much for everything you did for Dad.


Day case surgery was excellent

Had a hysteroscopy, fibroid removal, curretage and coil insertion yesterday under general anaesthetic in the Day Case Unit.

The system was efficient, the staff lovely and professional and caring, the place was immaculate. I was served gluten free toast afterwards as I have coeliacs disease which i was worried would be be missed in my groggy state. Only downside was I waited 6 hrs on my own in a silent room as there was a mix up with op list.

A tv would have made it more bearable but as it’s a Day Case Unit there isn’t funding for a tv.

But I don’t want to end on a low note. ..6 hours out of my life is a small price to pay when you look at world issues. Let’s not lose our nhs…its not perfect I can testify to that but thank you Day Case Unit. I’ve come away feeling very satisfied.


Outstanding service,care and dedication

I just want to say a massive thank you to the surgeon and the staff who dealt with my recent eye problem. Everyone treat me with curtesy and respect from first attending the eye infirmary in February until I was discharged recently. I had to have laser surgery to correct my sight after contracting an eye condition called, serous retinopathy. I was very worried and nervous and the surgeon took the time to discuss all the necessary information. They were very concerned about my problem and made sure I had every test possible before deciding what treatment to offer me.

All the tests I went through were performed by friendly and professional staff. They were all very approachable.

When the laser surgery had worked the surgeon was just as relieved and excited as I was.

All my appointments were made to suit my working life and the appointments were quick to come through. I could not fault the service of staff at this hospital at all.

The only complaint I would have would be the car parking payments and machine that didn’t accept notes. You had to buy something from the cafe inside the hospital to get coins. When you have eye problems the last thing you need is to worry about parking payments.

I am truly grateful to Mr Habib and staff at this hospital and I would definately and most highly recommend them.

Thank you all so much.

Mary Reynolds

Mary Reynolds

Heart failure and Hip Operation – both superbly…

In 2012 I was an emergency admission with a wrongly diagnosed condition. Staff on EAU quickly established I had dilated cardiomyopathy and my care was swift, effective and keenly professional. I felt well supported on the ward and subsequently, under the expert care of the wonderful Consultant, I have been restored to a full and active life: something that seemed improbable when I was first admitted. I feel privileged to have this kind, gentle, modest and eminently knowledgeable person as my consultant and fully confident in all his decisions.

Last week I was readmitted to the hospital for a total hip replacement operation and was again overwhelmed by the sleek efficiency, friendliness and professionalism of staff. My particular thanks go to a particular member of staff and their amazing mentor who explained every aspect of proceedings, involved me in all decisions, talked calmly to me throughout the operation (I had a spinal with no sedation) and seemed genuinely concerned for my mental and physical well-being both during and after the operation. They even visited me on the ward a day later to ensure I was well and happy. The experience was fascinating and an impressive showcase of how top-flight machinery and top-flight staff can achieve medical triumphs.

I was up within 5 hours of the operation thanks to the surgeon’s skill and the sensitive handling of anaesthesia. Within 2 days I was ready for discharge.

Life on Great Tey ward was warm, friendly and supportive- and the involvement of all services (physiotherapy/ occupational therapy/pharmacy) were well-oiled and enmeshed. Even the food was great!

Sincere congratulations and much appreciation to you all.

Jan Kilpatrick

Positive Recent Service Experience

Dear Sirs

We hear a lot of negative stories about the NHS and we would like to feed back our extremely positive recent experiences.

My husband Ian had a total hip replacement at Calderdale Royal Hospital on 2nd July 2015.

From initial assessment, to post op follow up we have only praise.

We found staff in all departments, and at all levels of the service, thorough, professional, informative, courteous and caring. The aftercare at home was impressive and a minor wound infection was dealt with efficiently and promptly.

We would like to thank you all very much for your combined efforts in making the process seamless, positive and, for my husband, life enhancing.