"2 Day Nightmare!!!"

About: Royal Free Hospital

I had been waiting for major Pancreatic surgery (referred from UCLH) for months, but was finally given the 17th December for an operation at The Royal Free. My wife and I arrived at 07:30 as requested at the Day Surgery Unit on the 3rd floor, went through the usual booking in process, discussed my surgery with the anaesthetist, had blood taken and then took a seat in the waiting area. I was told that they were waiting for a bed in ITU to become available for my post-op care before they could operate. We waited, and waited, and waited, until someone from the Surgical Team came at 16:30 to tell me that due to a lack of beds in ITU my procedure was being postponed until the following day. I was less than impressed with the lack of information that I had received throughout the whole day, and the fact that I had not been able to eat and drink or have my normal pain relief medication due to fasting for the operation, and was by now in severe discomfort. I was then told it would take 2 hours to get my medication from the hospital pharmacy, and to complete my patient discharge paperwork. We explained that we live in Hertfordshire and it was a long way to travel home and get back at 07:30 the next morning. We were then told that accommodation in a local hotel had been arranged for us. Fortunately we have understanding relatives who cared for our daughter for our night away from home. We finally left the hospital that day at 18:15. We arrived back on the same ward the following morning at 07:30 and were taken straight through the whole booking in process very quickly. A member of the Surgical Team came and spoke to us at 08:00 and said there were 2 operating theatres available so that was no issue, and that the Bed Manager had told him there would be a bed available in ITU within the hour so it was "99% certain" my operation would happen within the hour. Once again we waited, and waited until 14:30 when I asked/begged one of the nurses to please find out what was happening. Soon after another member of the Surgical Team arrived to tell me the operation was now cancelled "until early January" due to a lack of beds in ITU again. Once again I had not had any food, drink or medication for the second consecutive day, and had to go through the whole 2 hour pharmacy/discharge debacle again. Both my wife and I were very very upset after being put through the stress and trauma of preparing for a major operation, only for this fiasco to happen. We finally left the hospital at 16:30. Since this my health has deteriorated so badly that I have seriously contemplated calling an ambulance on more than one occasion. It is now 7th January 2014 and I have still not been given a definite date for the rescheduled operation. The treatment we received was so poor, one of the head nurses (who's name I can supply) said that even she intended to complain about how we were treated and the total lack of communication, compassion and empathy from the Surgical Team.

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Response from Royal Free Hospital

We are very sorry that your operation has twice been postponed and that you felt your treatment and care was poor. We have a patient advice and liaison service (PALS), which is there to support patients and we would encourage you to contact them. They may be able to give you information about when the operation will take place and address other concerns that you may have. You can email them on rfh.pals@nhs.net or call them on 020 7472 6446 / 6447.

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