"My Mother dying (aged 90 and with dementia) over a period of days."

About: Royal Bournemouth General Hospital

(as a relative),

While it is impossible to find fault with the level of care and kindness while we had the Dr/nurses attention, we always had the uncomfortable feeling that the paperwork was more important than the patient and family.

There were some odd instances of "right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing". As we sat by the bedside, the overriding impression was of people with their heads in files or glued to computers...so much so that our friendly "Good mornings" on arrival went without answer, even there was no apparent crisis. We are aware that this is NOT the professionals fault, rather that of the system that constrains them, being obsessed with statistics. Lovely staff, but a de-humanising system. Sad how this atmosphere has taken over the NHS.

Also on one particular morning there were at least 3 other patients on the ward, each listening to a different TV channel, with the volume turned up, resulting in a total cacophony. My Mum was clearly distressed by the noise level and could barely make out our (human) voices above it all. Surely headsets should be standard? Easy enough to achieve surely. A dying (or even Ill) person shouldn't be subjected to that.

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Response from Sue Mellor, Patient Experience Lead, Royal Bournemouth & Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Dear Bemused

Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us regarding the observations you made whilst visiting your elderly mother.

Can I first of all thank you for praising the level of care and kindness shown by the doctors and nurses as this should always be the first priority and I am sorry to hear that this has not always been your experience whilst visiting.

In order to maintain a safe and effective level of care to all our patients, staff do need to record information, results and observations in the patient records, which as you noted can be either file or computer based. Whilst this should not be put before patient care accurate record keeping lessens the occasions of the "right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing" unfortunately the balance between record keeping and hands on patient care is a fine line and we don’t always get it right. We have recruited more clinical staff allowing for a greater presence on the nursing floor and more time for staff to talk with relatives.

The television systems we use are managed by an external company and your comments have been passed on to the ward sisters to makes sure headphones are supplied and made available to patients thus reducing the amount of background noise you encountered and I can only apologise for the distress caused to your mother by the noise level.

If you would like to discuss your experience in more detail please contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 01202 704886 or pals@rbch.nhs.uk

Kind Regards

Sue Mellor

Head of Patient Experience

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