"My brother was admitted in the ..."

About: East Surrey Hospital

(as a relative),

What I liked

My brother was admitted in the middle of the night after a bad fall. He had broken ribs, broken and twisted vertebrae in his neck and a dislocated shoulder. It wasn't clear initially

if he had internal injuries, or whether the broken neck would lead to paralysis.

The staff on duty worked quickly and calmly, and it was obvious they were working as a team with others in the hospital to make sure the diagnosis and treatment were correct.

The nursing staff were incredibly attentive to my brother, and talked with him about his injuries and tried to calm him down when he became upset. They even found the time to talk with us at his bedside (and supply cups of tea) which was very reassuring.

It still amazes me that my brother walked out of the hospital under his own steam 8 days after the accident. He and my family are hugely grateful for the dedication and skills shown by a number of the nursing and surgical staff we encountered.

What could be improved

There appeared to be a severe shortage of trained staff on duty on the general ward. This affected all patients; these are the ways in which this staff shortage affected my brother.

* Until the operation (day 6) he had to lie flat on his back. To prevent bed sores, he was meant to be turned by 4 staff every 4-6 hours. On one occasion, he waited 24 hours to be turned, until we complained to the Matron.

* The Matron asked 4 people to turn him - and one didn't support my brother's neck until he told her to do so. (It was important to support his neck as a movement of the vertebrae could have led to paralysis).

* No-one seemed to realise that, lying flat on his back, my brother couldn't feed himself or get his own drinks. One day, my mother and I turned up just as the food tray was about to be taken away.

* The red tray system worked ok, however my brother sometimes had to wait a long time to fed, and then had food 'stuffed' down him by impatient staff.

* As there were too few staff, it took a long time for the buzzer to be answered. On one occasion, my brother had to wait 40 minutes with a urine bottle in his hand until I arrived and disposed of it. (The nurse behind the desk didn't take it from me - she just said 'it goes over there' and pointed where I should take it.) Another time, he needed to urinate but noone answered the buzzer in time, so he ended up wetting himself. He waited a long time for someone to clean him up.

* It appeared to an outsider that some nurses cared about their patients and ran themselves ragged looking after them, while others did the bare minimum with little care or interest.

Anything else?

A man was admitted to my brother's ward with a hand injury. His female partner used to sleep on the ward with him and use the patient's bathroom facilities unchallenged, which is very unhygienic. My brother also heard them having sexual intercourse on the ward, which is a

bit grim. They were eventually put in a private room off the ward, which was better but not ideal.

Story from NHS Choices

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››