"Inpatient care at Pilgrim Hospital"

About: Pilgrim Hospital / General surgery

(as the patient),

Dear Sir,

I am writing regarding my recent treatment at Pilgrim Hospital.

I was admitted to the day case ward on for a procedure. I handed over my prescribed tablets as per the patient notes and preadmission advice. This included pain medication which I know to be a controlled drug. Following my operation I was transferred to ward 5b because I had a drain and could not be discharged that day. I reminded them about the pain medication and was assured that it was being taken to the new ward.

On ward 5b I requested painkillers and found that none of my tablets had been written up apart from paracetamol. I am on a range of medication which I am being given treatment through the pain clinic at Lincoln County Hospital (in my notes). The pain control medication taken 3 times a day was for the pain from gallstones. I was therefore surprised that my pain relief after the operation was less than my normal pain relief beforehand. They finally prescribed me some liquid morphine which gave me the relief I needed. I kept reminding staff about my own pain control medication but to no avail.

The rest of the drugs I had brought in with me were kept at the nurse’s station waiting for a doctor to write them up on my drugs chart. Each time I asked for tablets they could not find my drugs chart and I had to tell them the tablets I had brought in was with nurses/doctors. This scenario must have been repeated 3-4 times.

It was only after the registrar had been round and removed my drain that one of the doctors wrote up my drugs with me providing a copy of my repeat prescription I had brought with me. The details of all my drugs had been carefully noted during the preadmission so were in my notes. This resulted in me not getting those drugs until after midday.

Because I was in pain and felt unable to cope at home it was agreed I should remain on the ward and be reassessed the next morning. During this time I was given pain relief but less than prescribed by my GP. I was given 2 doses of liquid morphine, once in the day and the other at night when I requested extra pain relief.

I found that when rang the bell to request pain relief I would be told that they would inform the nurses, but this would take a long time to get sorted with worsening pain and discomfort. However, I must say that when I needed a bedpan at night the help was almost instantaneous and I felt guilty about them having to change the sheets twice because of accidents.

The following morning I was moved to another room, something I have got used to during my previous admissions to Pilgrim Hospital. Because of this room change my GP prescribed drugs were again given to me late in the morning and I had to request pain relief. Because pain relief had “improved” I was told I could go home by the registrar. I was asked if I had managed to go to the toilet and at the time I had passed urine but not faeces. This question was not asked again so no check was made as to whether my bowels were working properly before I left until I offered the information. I was asked by the ward clerk whether I needed transport and she informed me that this would be arranged on my behalf. I again reminded them to ensure that my pethidine would be returned to me on discharge.

At about 3pm I rang my bell to request pain relief. Someone came in and turned off the buzzer and said she would sort it out. I did not want to keep ringing the bell as I understood that the nurses were busy and I did not want to create a fuss with other patients needing care and attention probably more than I did.

However, when a nurse did arrive it was to inform me they would be moving me to the relative’s room as they needed the bed. She was surprised when I got upset about the fact pain relief had not been given (it was now after 4pm) and claimed she had not been informed. She gave me 2 tablets and moved my bags and I to the relatives room. There was no water apart from that of a previous occupant and their empty mug. By this time I was in tears.

About ½ hour later a nurse came and asked me whether I would be able to get to my GP practice nurse to get my dressings changed. I explained about my other medical problems and that, together with post operation pain, would create problems in walking there (I do not drive). I also told her that no-one had looked at my dressings and I had no idea whether I had stitches. She returned with clean dressings which she changed whilst I was in the relative’s room. She later asked if I had the telephone number for my GP surgery so she could arrange for a district nurse to come the following day to check my dressings.

I also asked her to check on transport as I has been told that it would be “sometime after 2pm” and it was now 5pm. Yet again I reminded her about my pain control medication. The nurse returned and said that transport was actually after 5pm as the notes had not been clearly readable. I found out from the driver that he had had a phone call to pick me up about the time the nurse was making her enquiries so something had obviously gone wrong in the booking.

I was given the bag of tablets prescribed by my GP plus a few more from the pharmacy department, together with a bag containing clean dressings. I asked about my pain control medication and was told they had no trace of it. This was after numerous reminders from myself regarding the matter. I also asked if she had my discharge letter. She said it was in my drugs bag but then said that it had been left on the printer because she had been distracted by the driver arriving.

As I was complaining to the driver about the ward and my missing drugs a senior nurse appeared and informed me that my pain control medication had arrived from the daycase ward but the nurse wasn’t to know. I don't think she liked the fact I was upset and talking to the driver about the poor treatment I had received, and whilst I do not like complaining about hospital care I was so upset by this time I just wanted to get home.

I was made to feel that as I was being discharged I was a “non-patient” with little care and attention until the bed was needed. I got the impression from the registrar that he was pleased to get me discharged, especially as the surgeon had said I could go home the previous day. My guess is that I was costing them money and each day I was an inpatient would be a charge against their budget.

I do realise that there were patients who probably needed more care because of their medical condition, but one of night nurses reminded me that I was a patient that needed care as well. I feel that if I had made a fuss and kept pressing my buzzer I would be classed as an awkward patient, but not doing so led to me being ignored or forgotten.

I hope that now I have had this operation I will never have to go to Pilgrim hospital again as staff communication and pain care is poor to the extent of making you feel grateful when the most basic of needs is met.

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Response from Jennie Negus, Deputy Director of Patient Services, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

picture of Jennie Negus

Dear Nanny Ogg - I have discussed your experience with matron who would really like to talk to you; would you be able to contact her directly at: janet.sharman@ulh.nhs.uk?

Your experience was clearly not good enough and we are extremely sorry; there were a number of failings and issues we need to pick up and Matron Sharman would like to discuss these with you in order to take these forward and ensure we learn and improve as a result. Thank you for leaving your feedback; and again our sincere apologies.

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