"Good Hope completely let my father down"

About: Good Hope Hospital

(as a relative),

My Father was admitted into Good Hope Hospital for a hip replacement operation. He walked into the hospital a very fit and healthy man. He always had such a wonderful sense of humour, full of personality and was never short of a word or two to say.

Two days after he was admitted, he was taken down to surgery and after a 2 hour operation he was placed into a ward to recover. On that same day, I managed to speak to the doctor and he confirmed to me that the operation went very well and he was very positive that - with time - my father would make a full recovery.

A short time after this conversation I was informed by the ward staff that he had contracted MRSA. Over the course of the following months my father was confined to isolation and placed in a single bed ward. We were told that the medical treatment being provided continued to prove unsuccessful and the MRSA developed into C. difficile. By this time my father was profoundly deaf and had completely lost his power of speech and I began to question the standard of care that he was receiving. I had a number of meetings with the doctor for whom I have respect for but unfortunately, had difficulty understanding due to the language barrier.

Despite the clear pain that he was in, remarkably my fathers’ condition began to improve. The doctor confirmed to us that he was pleased with my father’s progress and finally after 6 months in hospital, it was agreed that he was ready to come home. My father would require medical care at home as he was completely bedridden and I was assured that this would be organised by the discharge team at Good Hope. As a family we spoke to my father and he was so looking forward to coming home to his wife and two little dogs that he missed so greatly.

Over the next two months I kept in constant contact with the discharge team. I attended two case conferences in which we discussed the nature of care needed and the fact that family was always on hand to fully support. However, I felt like I was banging my head up against a brick wall.

My fathers file was passed to 3 separate ‘team members’ – the first person dealing with my fathers case went off sick, the second was also off sick so many times I found she was completely impossible to contact, and the third person that the file was handed to worked part-time. I found it increasingly difficult to believe that the ‘discharge team’ was giving my fathers case the attention with which they were entrusted.

My thoughts were later confirmed when it was suggested to me that my father should be put into a care home. However, as a family we made it clear that a care home was out of the question. Although his recovery was slow, we knew that he would have a better quality of life at home. As a result my father would continue to occupy a bed in Good Hope until the necessary care package was put in place.

The situation however, was about to take a dramatic turn. On a morning in March I was contacted by one of the ward sisters and was asked if I would like to come and see my father in visiting time that day because he was not well. Immediately I left my workplace and made my way to the hospital. On arriving into the ward I spoke to the nurse that was looking after my father and asked what was going on. The nurse replied that he was ‘not too good today’. I continued to ask her exactly how unwell my father was and she replied that he was ‘not very unwell, but just having a bad day’.

When I finally got to see my father I could not believe what I was confronted with. He was delirious and did not recognise me. I had visited him a few days previously and could not believe the dramatic change in his condition. The staff failed to explain how seriously ill he was.

The following morning my daughter and I went to see my father thinking that he would be feeling a little better. When we arrived we were confronted with my father lying down completely flat on the bed and a oxygen mask on the side of the bed. The images of seeing my father like this will live with my daughter and I for the rest of out lives.

Immediately we approached a ward sister who was incredibly blasé and to be frank very rude to us. As we stood in the corridor she told us that she would ‘be surprised if he lasted the day’ and that she had decided not to call us in that morning because she knew that we had been to see him on the previous day. There was absolutely no empathy from this sister at all.

The sister continued to tell us that she felt it looked to her as if my father had given up because she claimed that he was refusing food and drink and kept removing the oxygen mask. We found this very difficult to believe because my father was such a positive person. When we returned to my father’s bedside we found that the oxygen mask was completely away from his face and the drip that should have been providing nutrients was empty.

Within an hour and a half my father was dead. The cause of death written on the medical certificate was pneumonia. My mother and brother did not make it to the hospital in time to say goodbye. The next day we were told to come and collect my fathers’ belongings and since then we have had no further contact with the hospital.

I strongly feel that Good Hope Hospital has completely let my father down. I believe the standard of care that he received was way below that which any patient would expect. I am forcefully of the opinion that my father was not fed properly and was severely dehydrated.

I believe that the staff on the ward failed to provide adequate and consistent aftercare to my father. There were many occasions when I would visit my father outside visiting hours and find him lying in heavily soiled sheets. I appreciated that the nurses were busy and had a list of patients to attend to. However, my father was in a side ward with MRSA and C. difficile - again, surely this should have made him a priority patient - if anything to prevent further infection spreading throughout the ward?

I should make it clear that I strongly feel Good Hope Hospital completely let my father down. I believe the standard of nursing care provided to him on the ward was negligent - particularly within the final two weeks of his life. From the day my father was admitted to the hospital not one member of staff on the ward wilfully wanted to speak to me about my father’s welfare. I am now overcome with regret for the day that my father walked into Good Hope Hospital.

I am alarmed by the fact that we were told by a member of staff at the hospital only three weeks prior to my father’s death that all of its managers had met to discuss exactly what to ‘do’ with my father due to the fact that their discharge team had been unable to put a care package in place and he was occupying a bed in a single ward at their hospital. They clearly wanted my father out.

This entire experience with Good Hope Hospital is extremely frightening. My father went in for a hip replacement operation and lost his precious life.

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