"My poor mum"

About: Royal Berkshire Hospital

While sitting in the A&E waiting room for my mum to be assessed on 23 Nov, a patient collapsed onto the floor. There wasn't a single staff member there to help. All staff were behind a locked door and onlookers had to ring a door bell and wait for emergency staff to respond! That was the first shocker, but more was to come. My mum was elderly, incredibly frail and suffered pain in every joint. It was painful just to turn her in bed and she suffered from terrible pressure sores so I requested an air bed in the CDU unit. The nursing staff (4 female nurses) brought an air bed and asked the family to leave while they transferred her, pulling the curtains around the bed. We moved to the end of the ward, but after a while something made me peek through the gap in the curtains. I hadn't seen a hoist and wondered how they would transfer mum from bed to bed. I was horrified to see my mum thrown like a sack of potatoes onto the air bed. landing with a loud crash. It appeared that the nurses were holding each corner of the sheet to hurl her across. The head nurse then turned and spotted me looking and, embarrassed, asked me to move away. I was too in shock to speak. Had mum been conscious I am sure she would have screamed in pain. She died 2 weeks later. The only reason I didn't make a formal complaint at the time was because I was too consumed with grief, knowing mum was dying. Throughout mum's stay she wasn't allocated a slip mat to aid the nurses when moving and washing her, making the process difficult for everyone. The staff were hard working and probably under pressure and under-resourced but no-one deserves to be treated like that and the image still haunts me. I am writing this in the hope someone else's mother won't have to suffer the same way. Mum had dementia and was unable to swallow properly. We were given very little information to help us understand and deal with the dilemma of whether or not to give her food and drink. When we asked to see the consultant we were told to book an appointment with his secretary. Thank goodness for the internet and medical sites that convinced us of the right course to take and gave reassurance that mum wouldn't suffer terrible pain.

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Response from Royal Berkshire Hospital

We are very sorry to hear about the experience that you and your mother had in the Emergency Department - it is something we need to investigate further so please could you contact the Matron for Urgent Care - Brenda Morton, tel: 0118 322 8088 or ask switchboard (0118 322 5111) to page her on 40597. Alternatively, you can contact the Patient Relations or PALS departments on 0118 322 8338 to take this forward.

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