"Appalling Standards of Care"

About: Princess Alexandra Hospital (Harlow)

My father was taken ill in Spain and had surgery for a spinal haematoma. He was flown home on a medical flight because he was to lay flat. The amazing surgeon in Spain wanted my father transferred directly to the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation at The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore. We were informed that my father required a referral from a Dr in the UK and would therefore need to be taken directly to our local A & E dept. On arrival at PAH my father was told by the staff that he shouldn't have been brought there! My father worked at the same company for 50 years and has paid his national insurance contributions for all that time so what on earth gives that member of staff the right to say that to my father is beyond me. My father then layed in a bed in EAU until late Friday evening. It was so dirty, small, and claustrophobic in there with not even one window to look out of. Around 7:30pm on Friday 25th July my father was transferred onto Kingsmoor Ward. We stayed with him for around 45 minutes and during that time not one member of staff came to introduce themselves or make sure everything was okay. The only member of staff who spoke to us was a nurse informing us that visiting time is finished! My father received no physio for 4 days then all of a sudden the physio turns up on Monday and expects my father to run marathon. The staff helped my father onto the commode on Monday and then left him there for over an hour even though he was pushing his call button. He then got seen by the physio who left him sitting in his chair next to his bed when she left. After an hour my father asked to be put back into his bed because he was in pain. The nurse said no because the physio said he needed to sit in the chair. My father had to phone my mum at 14:30 to ask her to come up to the ward and help him back into bed! My mum went up and helped him into bed. I complained to a nurse that evening and she was just rude and basically called my mum a liar. The staff changed his mattress over the weekend and asked my father to get into the chair. He hasn't been able to walk since before his surgery because he had no feeling from the waste down. Do the staff not read patients records? So far the information we've been given ranges from: does my father have a stair lift etc at home? Of course he doesn't because his mobility was perfectly fine before the haemorrhage happened! Then we were told a referral to Stanmore could take 2 months. Then they told us they wanted to send him home! Ha is that a joke. Yesterday my father was informed that he was being transferred to Epping hospital as soon as a bed becomes free. My goodness will someone please make up their mind. I will be making a formal complaint because I tried to speak to the ward sister which was a complete waste of time.

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Response from Princess Alexandra Hospital

Dear Sue, I was so sorry to read about your experiences as this is absolutely not what we would expect for our own families and so this is not what we should expect you to accept. This has clearly been a difficult journey and from what you relate there has been an unacceptably poor quality of communication and a number of delays. Waiting for a bed at a specialist centre is, we know, a stressful time and our intention must always be to make you as a family and our patients as comfortable as possible by providing timely and clear information about what is happening and I can see this has not happened. I am sorry the ward staff could not assure you, I am aware our ward staff are doing their best in often challenging circumstances but what you describe does need to be investigated and so I would urge you to contact the Patient Experience Team on 01279 82 7084 or email pals@pah.nhs.uk to take a next step. I have also escalated your concerns to the Head of Nursing and Clinical Director for Surgery and Critical Care Services so they can review what has been happening immediately.

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