"I recently underwent a total knee ..."

About: St Mary's Hospital (Newport)

(as the patient),

What I liked

I recently underwent a total knee replacement.I was on Alverstone Ward for 5 days and cannot over praise all hospital services and staff.

The service was 5 star and the friendliness and caring exceeded all expectation.

The ward was run efficiently and professionally and I did not feel that at any time I lost control of my life or loss of dignity.

I was told the porter would be with me about 8.10 to take me to theatre. At precisely that time the porter accompanied by a theatre nurse came to me. They were kind and thoughful and the "ride" from the ward to theatre was smooth and calming. The theatre nurses were wonderfully attentive and kind. The anesthetist answered every question fully and kept me informed of what was happening at every stage. My surgeon took exceptional care to belay my concerns and was very reassuring, and from my progress so far, did an excellent job.

I was very nervous beforehand but felt safe and looked after all the way from admission to discharge.

I can't speak for the NHS in general but from my experience at St. Mary's, the treatment, the service and the care is exceptional.

What could be improved

The food - it was not fit to eat. The only food that had any taste was the pizza. Other people on the ward were covering their food with salt and tomato ketchup to make it palatable.

The chicken was one large bone with fatty skin and pink meat. The salads never varied - a few lettuce leaves, a couple of underipe tomatoes with the green bit left in, a few slices of cucumber and a small amount of grated carrot - the protein element was the only variation, so boring and a throw back to salads of four decades ago.

The potatoes could have been anything, with closed eyes I could not identify what the food was. I lost over half a stone and resorted to having oat biscuits brought in for me.

One evening we were near to resorting to order takeaway so we could eat a decent meal.

The breakfast I cannot comment on as I did not have any. Neither can I comment on starters or puddings for the same reason.

In fairness the nurses did say the Sunday roast meal is usually good but even they admitted on this day, it was not good.

Those patients who were in for longer than I was were having sandwiches and salads including pasta salads and rice salads and cakes brought in for them to eat.

The other area where improvement can be made is on discharge - the drug chart is sent to pharmacy to enable them to make up a bag of medication for the patient to take home. My chart went down at 10.30 - by 2.00 I was still waiting. I gave up at 2.30 and went home. The next day my medication was collected for me. It consisted of one pack of Paracetamol - I could have bought ten packs for the cost of petrol and parking - and two medications that I had never used during my stay. The hospital could have saved money by not giving me medication I did not use or need and I could have saved money by not collecting them.

I have attended several out-patient clinics and my experience varies from mild frustration to downright harrowing. A block appointment system is used which means more parking has to be paid for than may be needed as you have no idea what time you will be seen. It is not rocket science to re-evaluate this system thereby saving resources.

At arrival you give your name to a receptionist who tells you to take a seat - this is not a welcome, it does not allay fears or worries and it could be improved.

You do not know which doctor or surgeon you will see until you go through the door - another area that could be improved, surely they know by then which patient is allocated to which doctor.

On arrival how nice it would be to get "oh good afternoon Mrs. Anon you will be seeing Mr/Miss/Mrs X this afternoon, please take a seat and s/he will be with you as soon as possible" - what a difference to the atmosphere and experience that would make.

The block appointment scheme at pre-operation assessment could also do with being abolished. I got there at 9.45 and left at 1.30 having less than 30 minutes face to face with medical staff. This all adds to patients worries about what kind of service and treament they will get once admitted for treatment.

The service on the ward is in sharp contrast; on the ward you are treated like gold-dust, nothing is too much trouble for the staff, whereas in the clinic you are a faceless, nameless number being pushed through the system by staff who ignore you until the actual consultation.

Story from NHS Choices

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