"Excellent surgery but very poor post op care for..."

About: Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Wonford)

My 19 year old daughter has just had bimaxillary surgery to realign her jaw. This meant she had her jaw wired shut following the procedure and was very swollen. The surgery itself looks very successful but our problems have been in the care post op. There was a real lack of understanding of her needs, she was unable to speak and had to write down any communication. I have pages and pages of her notes telling me she didn't feel safe and no one was listening to her. A lack of consistency with the staff and poor communication meant that there appeared to be a lot of staff around the ward - mostly at the desk, there was little patient focus. My daughter felt she was just a number and no one really cared how she was feeling or what she needed. She was left without fluids or pain relief for up to 5 hours, then hi calorie drinks were left out of reach and made too thick for her to use the straws to try and drink. The nurses presumed she didn't want them, yet she actually couldn't reach them, couldn't swallow and no one took the time to show her or help her. It was a good job I could spend the time with her as on several occasions I arrived to find her very distressed. At one point her oxygen was turned down without telling her first - she was struggling to breath and couldn't understand what was happening. Whenever I raised concerns or tried to explain how she was feeling I was either told ' I've worked here for 17 years and know what I'm doing' or simply ' she'll be fine' . Very poor communication and a complete lack of genuine care. There were of course a handful of very very good caring individuals but they were in the minority.

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Response from Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Wonford)

Comments of this nature are taken very seriously and I would like to thank you for taking time to provide your feedback. I am saddened to learn that the care offered to your daughter at this hospital fell below your expectations. This is not acceptable and your experience has been shared with the nursing teams on our surgical wards for them to reflect upon. I am sorry you felt that good nursing staff were in the minority as I believe our wards have a reputation for providing good and compassionate care; however, I am keen to see improvements being made where they are needed and I have asked the senior nursing teams to ensure staff are fully supported in making any necessary changes. I cannot change your daughter’s experience but I would like to reassure both of you that your comments have been noted and will be acted upon. If you would like to discuss your experience in further detail, please contact our PALS service on 01392 402093 who will put you in touch with the relevant team. Once again, I am very sorry for any distress caused to you and your daughter on this occasion. Assistant Director of Nursing, Surgical Services