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

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.


A kind nurse who went above and beyond

I would just llike to say thank you to nurse Hilary on the AMU. I was admitted a couple of weeks ago late at night through A&E.

When I came to be discharged the following evening I got a bit teary when I realised I only had my pyjamas and a coat (I hadn’t been in much of a fit state to bring anything with me the night before as I was in so much pain). I didn’t have my purse. I had no money. My phone had run out of battery and to top it off there was no-one available to come and pick me up.

She could see I was in a bit of a state and still feeling quite poorly and lent me the money. I don’t think she expected to get it back but I was able to return later that evening with her money.

I’d just like to say thank you. You could have left me to my own devices or left me to block a bed until someone could pick me up. You could have just said it wasn’t your problem but you didn’t and it made a world of difference to me after a long, painful and rather emotional 24 hours.

You went above and beyond and it was much appreciated.


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.


Concerned about poor comunication and patient care

I was admitted to Scunthorpe General ward 28 after going to A & E with terrible pain in my liver. I had previously been diagnosed with a benign tumour in the liver and was worried that this might have been to blame.

During my stay in ward 28 I was horrified to witness some nurses treating other patients on the same ward with very little patience and occasionally outright hostility.

I soon became the object of the this same treatment when I expressed my concern over the fact that I was left waiting up to four hours each time I asked for pain relief. Not only was I left in considerable pain for hours at a time but I was repeatedly offered a drug that I am severely allergic to.

On day three I was amazed to witness a nurse tell the attending doctor that my ‘urine dip was clear’ because I had not even been asked to provide a water sample. Later that day, when I did provide a water sample, I could not believe it when I saw my sample in the bathroom three hours after I had informed a nurse it was there. Needless to say i was asked for another one.

Finally, as I was leaving to go home I was given a piece of paper with my discharge information on. I was terrified after reading on it that another tumour had been found on my liver. I was not informed of this at the hospital. I had to read it at home on my own with no one there to explain it to me.


My son’s experience of being admitted to A&E and the MAU at East Surrey Hospital

My son presented at his GPs early yesterday evening with severe stomach pain which was worsening. Our GP was concerned enough to advise that we take him to A&E as she thought there was a possibility that it could be appendicitis. She phoned ahead to the surgeon on call to give them advanced notice that we were bringing him in. We have absolute faith in our GP – we have always been very pleased with the service we’ve received from her.

I’m afraid to say that from then on, our experience was an absolute disaster. We clocked in at A&E with a letter from the GP. We spoke to the receptionist, who seemed completely disinterested – there was no sympathy or understanding. Naturally, we were quite anxious and concerned but we were not dealt with well. They were entirely unaware that our GP had called ahead, they were not expecting us.

They directed us towards another department, where we showed our letter from the GP and were told to wait. We waited for ¾ hour, during which time nothing happened – no one spoke to us. After ¾ hour had elapsed, I spoke to the staff and asked what was happening. They seemed completely unaware that we had been waiting and when I asked if we were in the right place, they said they thought we should be in the MAU. I’m not sure how long we would have been sitting there had we not spoken up.

The nurse very kindly walked us round to the MAU department, which was very nearby. We appreciated this kindness. She spoke to someone at the desk in the MAU to let them know that we were there and waiting to be seen.

In the early hours of the morning, we were still sat there. We had barely been spoken to and we, just like very many other patients in similar situations, were incredibly frustrated.

We did see a nurse at one stage, who I believe was a senior member of staff presumably responsible for running the unit. This nurse took my son’s bloods and gave him a drink. They also offered him a place to lie down if he wanted to, but he declined. We then had no further feedback from this nurse to tell us what was happening.

We asked on a few occasions when my son would be able to see a doctor, and we were told ‘minutes’. An hour and a half later, nothing had happened. This nurse, and in fact all of the staff we saw, seemed to have no control over what was happening, or any idea really. No one really took charge, lots of patients and family were waiting and we were all talking amongst ourselves because everyone felt the same way. We just wanted to know what was going on and when we would be seen but we were just told that the doctor was in surgery and no one knew when we would be seen.

At one stage, I walked quite a way to the nearest coffee machine. I took my money down there but when I reached the machine, there were no cups. Another frustration, given that we had been waiting now for almost 5 hours.

We finally saw the doctor at about 1pm and I have to say they were very helpful. I have no criticism for how this doctor dealt with us, they were very sweet and apologetic. They were the only member of staff to apologise to us for having had to wait for such a long time in the entire time we were in the hospital. The doctor was unable to reach a conclusive diagnosis from the tests that had been carried out, but felt confident enough that it was no appendicitis so sent us home.

All in all, a very disappointing experience and not our first at this hospital to raise some serious concerns about coordination and customer service.

To be honest, we would have patiently waited in the hospital for as long as was necessary but it was so frustrating to be sat waiting, with no one communicating with us and no idea of when we might actually see a doctor. My son was in a lot of pain and we were concerned. Other than the quick check from the nurse and then seeing the doctor hours after we arrived, we didn’t feel the majority of the staff had any genuine interest in our son or his health. We would have so appreciated just being kept in the loop as to when we could expect to see the doctor and it would have been nice for someone to have checked in with my son every so often to see if he was ok or if there was anything he needed. It was the same for many other patients that night who we spoke to as we waited – everyone felt the same.

To me, it is a matter of basic customer service and communication – and ultimately just feeling that someone cares.


Mixed care after gall bladder operation

I was admitted to hospital for a Gall bladder operation. A previous attempt of removal, a year earlier was abandoned most thankfully, this was due to serious complications.

So the operation was non routine, because it was stuck to my liver and duodenum, thus requiring great skill and patience to complete the operation successfully. The consultant and his team were brilliant and I can’t speak highly enough of them. However some of the nursing staff were less than professional. Upon returning to the ward, I was well overdosed with morphine, I nearly stopped breathing and was hallucinating badly. I was then given something else to negate the effect. I believe that this was done without consulting the medical team. A registrar was incensed when he found out shortly afterwards.

The sloppiness continued. I was in lots of severe pain and discomfort and was left for long periods. After a few days I developed a severe case of oral thrush, my tongue was pure white and my throat was closing up. I asked the nurse many times, in vain, for medication. Yes, I was simply ignored. By that evening I was desperate and begged the nurse for some help, she just said, I would have to see a doctor!

Eventually the night shift came on, what a difference! They were caring, interested and professional. They noticed my problem immediately and within a very short time I had been given the right medication. The medication began to work very quickly and I soon felt a lot better. However I really thought I could have choked to death.

Also during that week in hospital, the flush in my toilet never stopped flushing. I reported it daily, sometimes twice, but nothing was ever done about it! Finally I was discharged from hospital, only to return quickly with a very bad infection of the operation wound. More antibiotics and another small operation to drain the wound, then back home after a couple of days to three weeks of dressing changes from the superb district nurses and my local surgery.


Brilliant maternity care!

I was originally planning on having my baby boy at Calderdale however circumstances changed and I delivered at the huddersfield birth centre in August 2012.

I was really happy with my care so in brief.

*all the staff were extremely kind and helpful especially my partner, who I cannot praise enough!

*the birth centre is spotless and has great facilities including a large suite with birthing pool, all rooms have their own bathroom and there is also a communal kitchen offering meals for the parents, as well as tea and coffee for guests too.

*there are no strict visiting times and a guest can stay overnight, which is great!

*you don’t leave the hospital until you feel ready and the staff make sure you are confident with breast feeding etc before you go.

Overall I have no negatives, this was my first baby and the staff and the birth centre made the whole experience special, I would recommend to anyone wanting to go, the only thing you can’t have here is an epidural as it is purely midwife led, however you can be transferred very fast if needed.

Dewsbury hospital could really benefit from seeing how well huddersfield is run as I have not had a good experience with the dewsbury maternity service (seperate review)


Worries about apparently low staffing levels for Brearley at Sheffield NGH

I have Becker muscular dystrophy and am a full time wheelchair user. I transfer independently with some assistance but I cannot turn myself in bed unless I have hand controls for a profiling bed. I was admitted to Sheffield NGH in early Nov 2012 and spent 5 days on a Brearley ward.

Despite reading the useful Welcome/Info Leaflet for the Critical Care Department (PD4796-PL1600 x3), which said that the more ‘normal’ atmosphere provided on a ward is an important step towards recovery and rehabilitation, I remained excited to be moving off the HDU after 9 long days.

However, there was nothing ‘normal’ about the Bay on Brearley where I was wheeled to and left with five older patients, four of whom were semi naked all aged 80 to 85, where one or two of them would beg intermittently for attention or mostly just sit and stare into space.

Somewhat comically the chap who wheeled me to the Bay tried to turn me around into a position to face the ‘throng’ of fellow patients. I actually felt scared, depressed and very lonely. Maybe this doesn’t reflect well on me – or maybe it does?

Despite the obvious bleakness I did manage to string up one or two good wee conversations with the patient across from me who had been admitted from a nursing home in the North of the City. But I am sure most people would agree this was not a ‘normal’ atmosphere for a 48 year old man trying to recover from a huge life threatening incident in his relatively young life. Heartbreakingly my 8 year old daughter couldn’t even pop into see me.

Thankfully, it was down to one astute Sister/Ward Manager who observed I would recover better in a side room. Despite this it took a further 12 hours to get moved there despite the side room being empty when the suggestion was made.

Side Room on Brearley – Brilliant

Very few members of staff seemed interested in their patients, except, on about the third night, I did manage to chat to a couple of Support Workers who, having listened to me tell them what it was like to be unable to anything in hospital because of the muscular dystrophy, they then took a genuine interest and were very understanding.

One of the Support Workers who worked constantly from the moment she was on the ward was one of two nursing staff who had to leave me sitting on a bed pan for 15 minutes while they tried to catch up with the other patients on the ward. I waited and I waited and I waited as I was sure they would work out some way of not having to leave me on the bed pan for too long and they would get their other patients attended too.

This made me think of the attention the older patients needed – two of whom obviously had what appeared to be quite severe forms of dementia – I felt they were placed in a really dangerous situation. Not due to the lack of skills from the staff around but rather the paltry low no’s of staff, especially at night time.

One of the older gentlemen from the Bay, one of the gents with dementia who was developing a wandering phase in his condition came into the side room I was in and sat on the comfy chair. I pressed my call button and sure enough someone came eventually – no one seemed too worried he had gone missing.

Saving Lives

I heard amazing skills and intense aptitude from nursing staff during the night as two or three times they brought one of the older gentlemen back from life threatening situations.

This is the business end of course – but does this excuse a lack of skills – or sometimes just good manners – in other areas?

Levels of staffing on Brearley

The Royal College of Nursing released figures from their members saying that low staffing meant care suffered in a variety of ways. For example, 8 in 10 said basic support, such as talking and comforting patients, was compromised, while a third said they did not have time to help people properly with eating and drinking.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) earlier last year issued warnings to some 17 NHS Hospitals who were observed to operating out-with safe staffing levels. I saw four semi naked men 80-85 in a bay in the ward I was sent to all begging for attention and left to stare into space. Some nurses were obviously finding it hard. Overall I just thought there was a clear lack of support for staff. Why no specialist dementia nursing or the presence of therapeutic staff for them?

This is not the fault of nursing staff and my concerns are not being laid at their door. It is for senior managers to try and sort this because without employing enough staff you will not be able to provide the standards of care we have come to expect of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

Mr Anderson

8 tortuous days in Southport Hospital

My father has bone cancer and had to be admitted to a general ward for a procedure. His usual pain relief is codeine, paracetamol and oramorph.

Except for at night, all they gave him was paracetamol because ‘the others are kept in the controlled drugs cabinet so we’d have to get them separately’.

For the first four days, no one helped him wash or dress, he was in the same pyjamas as he was admitted in despite the stock of clean clothes brought in by us every day. It took my mother being found in tears by a doctor for someone to act.

When admitted he had a small pressure ulcer which the district nurse had been successfully treating and it was well on the way to being cured. The nurses refused to continue her treatment regime and changed the type of cream being used. It is now twice the size it was, has gone from grade 1 to grade 3 and he has a rash from the dressing. The promised pressure mattress never materialised.

The general atmosphere on the ward was totally inconsiderate. Sleep was difficult enough with dementia patients calling out and wandering around. It was made worse by the lack of attempts by staff to keep noise down – for example the water jugs were changed at around 5:45 each morning.

The food was also very unpleasant – cold, rubbery toast, congealed macaroni cheese etc. The only food which was edible was the sandwiches. Given he has cancer, is struggling to get enough nutrition and feels sick a lot of the time being presented with unappetising food was hardly going to encourage him to eat. I am not therefore surprised that he lost 2kg in 8 days.

All in all, with a few shining exceptions, the staff I met seemed uncaring and thoughtless. The 6Cs urgently need reinforcing on this ward.