"Husband's attendance for day surgery"

About: Forth Valley Royal Hospital / Day Surgery

(as a relative),

My husband attended Forth Valley Royal Hospital for day surgery. I went with him to the hospital when he was checked in the morning.

At that time, his name was called, and I was handed a tiny piece of paper with a phone number on it and told to phone the number at 3 and a half hours later. I ascertained from this action that I was being sent away and would not be allowed to sit with him while he went through the various checks and awaited his surgery. I ascertained this but I was not informed of this arrangement; it was simply assumed by the nurse that I would have known this. However, when I attended for day surgery myself in 2012, my husband was allowed to sit with me until I was taken for surgery. He was also with me in the ward as I recovered from the anaesthetic. So this arrangement wasn't at all what either of us had expected.

When I realised I would have to leave at this early stage, I tried to explain to the nurse that my husband has Primary Immune Deficiency, and therefore every step of his care would need to be under very strict infection control and prevention conditions. The nurse did not respond to me, but instead turned to my husband and asked 'are you able to explain this when you go through'. My husband answered yes, and was taken away - now worrying about me being worried. The nurse had still not acknowledged me, my comments and concerns.

I then went home and waited nervously until the 3 and a half hours were up, when I was to phone the ward. I called as soon as the time was up and the phone rang for several minutes unanswered. When the phone was finally answered, I was not told whether he had been into theatre yet, whether he was still in recovery, or whether he had fully come around. I was not informed whether the surgery had gone to plan, and I was not advised that he was fine. This caused further worry. All I was told is that I should come to collect him later in the afternoon 2 hours after the time of the call. Between 11. 30 and 1. 30 his parents, his brother, and my dad were calling me for news which I was unable to provide. It later transpired that by late morning, my husband had recovered from the anaesthetic, had eaten and had been to the bathroom and was fully dressed and awaiting collection. Staff came into the room to re-make the bed he had been in for the next patient, meaning that he was unable to get back into the bed where he was more comfortable, and had to sit in discomfort in a chair for several hours immediately after surgery on his testicle.

Having been advised to collect my husband at specifically 2 hours after the time I was advised to call, I arrived five minutes before and let reception know that I was there. I was asked to take a seat until my husband was ready to be discharged. I waited anxiously in the waiting area at Ambulatory Care for 45 minutes. The longer I waited, the more convinced I became that there had been a complication and he wasn’t well enough to be discharged. I felt nauseous and was physically shaking. After 40 minutes I went back to the reception to ask for an update. It turned out that the receptionist had called through to the ward when I arrived to advise that I was there but the ward staff hadn’t actioned this. My husband and I were sitting either side of the ward doors apprehensively waiting on each other. Five minutes later my husband emerged from the ward. There was no apology from the staff for their oversight and the anxiety and stress it caused.

I appreciate that for the staff in this area of service this is all entirely routine. They do this all day every day, and there is nothing to worry about. However from a patient perspective this is anything but routine or normal. People are anxious about coming into hospital for surgery and the patients loved ones are worried about them. I feel that this could very easily be allayed by simple and basic communication. If patients and their relatives were put at ease and given basic reassurance and information about what is happening and why, this would in turn make the clinicians lives easier. There seemed to be a total lack of empathy for my husband as a patient and a human being. He and I felt we were both treated more as objects to be processed.

I am an employee of NHS Forth Valley and I’m very proud to be. I have huge respect for my colleagues, many of whom go well above the call of duty to take care of people and in most cases they do a fantastic job. However, in this instance it was a shock to see the organisation from a patient perspective, rather than the organisational viewpoint I usually hold.

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Response from Arlian Mallis, Person Centred Health and Care Co-ordinator, Department of Nursing, NHS Forth Valley

Thanks for letting us know about your experience, I think there are some key messages for us. I have asked the team to provide a response to your posting. You should hear from them soon. However if you want to make contact with me in the interm please dont hesitate to give me a call.

you can contact my by email - arlian.mallis@nhs.net

or by telephone on 07827820353


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Response from Arlian Mallis, Person Centred Health and Care Co-ordinator, Department of Nursing, NHS Forth Valley

I am very sorry to hear about your experiences in the day surgery unit and thank you for bringing this to my attention. Please accept my sincere apologies for the anxiety and distress caused during this time to both you and your husband.

When patients are admitted to Day Surgery the staff provide contact numbers to relatives to phone after 3-4 hours. This is because the 2 main trolley areas in Day Surgery are same sex areas - where patients are in theatre gowns pre and postoperatively. To respect patients dignity we try not to have relatives of the opposite sex in these areas. This should be explained at preop assessment. If a request is made at preop assessment then the staff contact the ward to ensure appropriate arrangements are made on the day of admission. However if a relative expresses a wish to stay with a patient on the day of theatre then there are other areas of the ward that can be used. These are waiting areas where everyone is in outdoor clothing and taken to a changing area prior to going to theatre. I will discuss with staff in preop assessment and ensure these procedures are reinforced.

Ward staff take infection control practices very seriously, please be assured we follow Standard Infection Control practices in the ward at all times and for all patients.

I apologise that staff failed to bring your husband to the waiting room, this should have happened and I will reinforce with staff the importance of following up on calls about arrival of relatives.

Again, please accept my sincere apologies for the experience you and your husband have had while in the day surgery unit.

Thanks, Margaret

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