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"My Son's Hospital Admission"

About: Royal Free Hospital / Accident and emergency Royal Free Hospital / Cardiology

(as a service user),

I have felt compelled to email you following my personal experiences of nursing at the Royal Free Hospital that I received!

My 24 year old son was admitted on Friday evening following a cardiac arrest on a train in London. After what was the most traumatic experience of my entire life we were blue lighted to the A&E department and shown to a relatives room by the ambulance staff whilst they worked on my son. During the time we were in A&E we were kept informed by a junior doctor and a cardiologist. The nurse did appear much later after approximately 2 hours and didn’t reassure or give us any information. I had to insist at seeing my son before he was transferred to ICU. 

Our experiences of nursing in ICU was in the main very good and the nurses for the first 24 hours were brilliant. I did have one concern that at this stage as my son had been with them a while and I wasn’t aware of any personal care being performed even though he had been incontinent at the time of the arrest. My son had become delusional and when I asked the staff about this they seemed to have very limited knowledge around this phenomenon and I found myself looking it up and realising that this was exactly what my son was suffering from.

My main concern was when he was transferred to the CCU ward and what I observed and experienced here was probably in my opinion some of the worst aspects of nursing. Initially the staff nurse attitude was unprofessional and they presented as ‘ jokey’ with me when I tried to ask simple questions. I asked for a bowl and assisted my son with a much needed wash. At this stage I decided to declare to the staff nurse that I was a nurse and that it was important to me to receive a good nursing experience whilst on the ward and they did appear to change.  

Things seemed to go downhill and we observed nurses sitting at the nurses station playing with one another’s hair, I wasn’t able to determine who anybody was as many of them were not wearing badges. When I asked one staff nurse what medication my son was on they replied ‘ I don’t know’ I will get back to you! they never did!

I heard my son being referred to as ‘ the cardiac arrest in bed 18’ 

One nurse came to do his observations and didn’t even speak! The nurse grunted when they wanted my sons arm and then finger! 

The heart failure specialist nurse visited and didn’t really seem to understand that all the very complex information they were giving to my son was not being absorbed. He wasn’t even able to recall where he was let alone what atrial fibrillation was. This nurse seemed to only have half the information about a devise that my son might have been fitted with and then left. 

I have only really scratched the surface in terms of what happened! 

As a senior nurse myself working at a strategic level in community nursing I felt so sad that person centred approaches to care had not appeared to have reached the Royal Free Hospital. We never met the nurse in charge of the ward and I couldn’t have even told you who they were. They didn’t seem to acknowledge the traumatic experience that we had all been through and also that in fact my sons short term memory loss was overwhelming! 

I decided to contact Harefield hospital as my faith in the Royal Free to deliver good nursing care and protect my son was failing and I asked for a transfer over the weekend. Only at this stage did I feel I could contact you! 

I would be happy to discuss this further at any stage and for you to know that this is not an official complaint! I just need to be heard both as a relative and as a nurse who loves nursing! 

Many thanks 

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Response from Royal Free Hospital 2 years ago
Royal Free Hospital
Submitted on 24/07/2019 at 10:26
Published on at 11:06


Thank you for sharing the experience of your son and you.

I am very sorry for the care you describe, it is below the standard we expect patients and their families to receive.

The Director of Nursing is keen to meet and discuss further so we can better learn what went wrong; if you are still keen to meet please email me at mark your reply DoN

Kind Regards


Richard Chester - deputy director of patient experience

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