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"Problems on the ward and moving to hospice care"

About: Craigavon Area Hospital / 4 North Surgical

(as a relative),

My brother went into Craigavon Hospital Accident and Emergency Department in the early hours of a Saturday in mid May. He was then admitted to the fourth-floor North ward.

He had been previously diagnosed with inoperable stage 4 cancer. His wife was told by staff at North Ward that he had barely weeks to live. From Wednesday the Wednesday he started to suffer severe anxiety to the point where his wife had to stay with him around the clock. She slept on the floor of the room that he was in, whilst her children were being cared for by relatives.

In less than a week he had developed multiple bedsores which we considered due to lack of attention from medical staff. His wife had to resort to trying to turn her husband on her own.

She was assured that on the morning of his the day in hospital he would be moved to Newry Hospice.

The Newry Hospice pastor came to see him to tell that all was prepared for his move to the hospice. When it came to the day he should be moving his wife after waiting sometime, went to inquire why an ambulance hadn’t arrived to take him to the hospice. A staff member told his wife that they had just checked and that there were no ambulances available as they where all on call and he would have to wait until the following morning.

The next day, once again after waiting sometime his wife had to go and inquire about the ambulance to take him to the hospice and again she was told that there were no ambulances available as they where all on call and he would have to wait until the following morning.

The nurses said they would re-book the ambulance for the following morning. When the next morning came it was the same response - no ambulances available. Three days in a row!

The nurses then told his wife that it would be another 5 days before they could move him to Newry Hospice, thus expecting her to lie on the floor of her husband's room for a further, 5 days. Thus causing further anxiety by being separated from their children.

His father went to Craigavon hospital in an attempt to get some answers as to what was going on. When he asked the nurses who the head nurse was, they claimed not to know.

Out of sheer desperation to try to alleviate the suffering of his son and family he said he would have to take the matter to the Nolan Show.

Meanwhile I rang the hospice in Newry on the 3rd day the ambulance didn't arrive to ask what was going on as Craigavon Hospital was not responding.

The Newry Hospice told me that an ambulance was not booked on any of the 3 days we were expecting it. 

The hospice informed me that a senior staff member at Craigavon Hospital claimed they would personally book him an ambulance so that he would be moved to Newry Hospice the day after.

After my intervention he was finally moved to the hospice on the Thursday. On the following Monday, the very day Craigavon Hospital had claimed that he would be transferred, he passed away. Thankfully due to my intervention he was able to spend his last few days in dignity with his family around him.

Given the fact that he only had a short time to live and the situation was obviously very stressful for him, his wife, children and extended family why was he treated so poorly? Surely it was a simple task to book an ambulance to take him to a hospice where he along with his wife and two children could spend the remaining days he  had left together in a family room?

Why did the staff give false information? If any of the staff had taken the time to check in regards to an ambulance booking they would have seen no ambulance had been booked, but to come back and say they had checked and they were all busy seems nothing less than dishonest.

We are all aware of the stresses that the NHS is currently facing but to treat a dying man and his family so poorly cannot be excused. Human error can also not be given as an excuse as the same error could not possible have occurred on three consecutive days.

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Response from Emma McCann, Ward Manager 4 North, Acute Directorate, SHSCT last week
Emma McCann
Ward Manager 4 North, Acute Directorate,
Submitted on 04/08/2022 at 12:17
Published on Care Opinion at 15:34

Dear Dia369

On behalf of the team in 4 North we express our sympathy on the death of your brother, we do appreciate that this has been a very difficult time for you all. From the information in your story we know that your brother and his wife spent almost 2 weeks in 4 north and we felt that we had built a good relationship with them both at a very sad and difficult time in their lives. I am sorry that the circumstances surrounding his care in 4 North caused you and his family so much anxiety.

I cannot go through all the details of your brother’s care in a public response. If you would like to contact me by email on or by phone on 02837561678 I can provide a more detailed reply to the specific concerns you have mentioned. Care Opinion is anonymous so I do not have the ability to contact you directly.

You may also wish to contact the Trust Bereavement Service. They can provide telephone support to you and your family, the number is 028 37 567990 and the bereavement team are available from Monday to Friday 9.00am – 5.00pm.

Again please accept our condolences at this time

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