"Miscarriage at Ward 78, St Michaels Hospital, Bristol"

About: St Michael's Hospital / Gynaecology

(as the patient),

I was admitted to the gynaecology ward 78 as an emergency following a miscarriage. The nurses on the ward were obviously overworked, but absolutely brilliant and, whilst working 12 hour shifts, were running around constantly giving drugs, changing dressings and doing all the "medical" stuff in a very caring and professional way. However, the ward felt short-staffed, so could do with some helpers, or less skilled people to give non-medical care and support to the patients to help with really simple things such as helping to dress, help them to the bathroom or dining room etc. The ward seemed to contain some pretty poorly people, some of whom were having difficulty walking - when we arrived, a patient had just found another patient collapsed on the floor of the toilets. Helpers should be "eyes and ears" if they see something (e.g. human waste) which needs to be cleared up to stop the spread of infection. This kind of care can make such a difference to a stay in hospital, and could even be carried out by volunteers? I was lucky in that my husband was able to come in to hospital to help me with most of this, but I appreciate that this isn't possible for all patients. A few examples of where this kind of care would have been great (there are more!): I was asked to walk, with very low blood pressure, wheeling my own drip to the scanning and treatment room. The doctor who performed my procedure left my bottom half and legs and feet covered in blood and took me back through the ward in a wheelchair with a bare bum and bloody legs (not very nice for the other patients' visitors!), telling me that they would arrange a shower. The nurses came and, rather apologetically, gave me some wet wipes - it was obvious that they just didn't have the time to help me shower. The wheelchair with the bloody sheets was left in the middle of the ward for at least 7 hours i.e. it was still there when I left. My husband helped me to change the blood soaked plastic sheet I was sitting on. There was an uncovered grey cardboard bed pan insert full of urine labelled "Donna C" left on the trolley outside the toilet in the main corridor for the whole day and was still there when I left. There were blood splats on the patient toilet floor. To be clear, I don't blame the nurses - they work incredibly hard and do their very best with limited resources and they cared for me well. I just feel that there should be more people to provide basic care for patients and to clean up properly in order to stop infection spreading. When I asked the nurses for help with little things, I always got it, but it took a long time as they have so many patients to care for. You do feel a bit silly asking for a nurse to help you untangle yourself from a drip tube to get dressed when the lady opposite who's just had a hysterectomy needs a dressing changed! Tip for visitors: my husband spent £15+ on parking whilst I was in for 36 hours - apparently you can get free permits from the ward.
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