"Patient Health Risk: Major Communication Breakdown"

About: Watford General Hospital

My dad, who has only been to hospital with broken limbs until now and is 70 years of age, went to Watford last week in agony as an infection in his jaw had swelled so much that he could not eat, sleep or remove his dentures. He was given 1 dose of analgesia, which worked and then sent home with a different analgesia (which didn't work) and told he would be brought back the next day. The next day he was not called, despite being in intense pain. When he phoned the hospital he was told to come back next week. On Saturday he was in so much pain that he could not sleep and became disorientated. I was called by his partner and brought him back to Watford. After a lengthy process he was told to get himself to The Lister Hospital in Stevenage and told he could catch a bus. Bearing in mind The Lister Hospital is over 26 miles from Watford and according to the route planner (which neither of us had access to at the time) it would take at least 2.5 hours and involve several changes (assuming we knew exactly where to go - which we did not). Is this really the procedure for pensioners in acute pain? I thought this was disgusting. We were told the ENT consultant was expecting us at Stevenage. When we finally arrived we waited in the ward for an hour, as instructed by the nurse, then told to go back to A&E where we had to wait another hour to see a triage nurse before being allowed to the ward (prior to seeing the doctor - so they clearly knew about him but made him wait in A&E to see the triage nurse for no apparent reason other than "it's our procedure"). After 10 hours we had not seen the specialist and fobbed off by several staff. What makes this experience so sad is that I worked as a nurse for 13 years in 3 different continents and studied good communication and it's importance in a medical setting for my nursing degree dissertation. The monumental breakdown at all levels is concerning for me should I not be around if my dad is sick again. As I fully understand the issues that front line staff have to deal with I will offer the A&E staff at Watford General and The Lister A&E a free workshop in effective communication in the hope that my dad will live through the next time he is acutely ill.

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Response from Watford General Hospital

Adam Thank you for your comments about the experience your dad had at Watford Hospital. I would like to start by apologising for not replying sooner and, more importantly, that the standard of care provided was clearly not to the level we would expect. It is hard to provide further detail about what happened without knowing more about your dad's case. As such, I would ask you to contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) so that they can look into it for me and address your concerns in more detail. The PALS team can be contacted on 01923 217 198 or you can email pals@whht.nhs.uk. Thank you again for taking the time to let us have feedback and my apologies for any unnecessary distress or anxiety this matter has caused you or your dad. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need to. My email is antony.tiernan@whht.nhs.uk or you can call me on 01923 436 229. Alternatively, you can tweet me: @AntonyTiernan. Antony Tiernan Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications

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