"This hospital is in meltdown"
About: The Whittington Hospital The Whittington Hospital London N19 5NF
Posted by Sarah Cope
I attended the hospital as a patient for day surgery; my gallbladder was removed using keyhole surgery. We have all read stories about the crisis the NHS is in; government cuts, and a constant move to outsourcing and privatisation are having negative consequences for patients across the country. However, nothing prepared me for how much the Whittington would have declined since I was last admitted there in 2011. The first thing to mention was the filthy state of the hospital. As the day wore on, I saw more and more alarming signs. A bin on the day treatment ward, metres from where people lay recovering from operations, was overflowing. A full bag of rubbish sat on top of the bin, into the bargain. A nurse, attending one of my dressings, asked my partner to help, without first asking her to wash her hands, despite her just having arrived. Another nurse, having dropped the disposable peak flow mouthpiece on the floor, looked at it for a moment and then fixed it to the machine and offered it to me to put in my mouth. A toilet was so caked in excrement at one point that I felt obliged to find an alternative one. There was no soap in a hand dispenser...next to a big sign about how important it was to wash one's hands. Apart from the issue of hygiene, there was clearly low, nay no, morale amongst staff. I do not want to criticise the staff; low paid, working long hours, mismanaged and undervalued, I am an awe of nurses. There was clearly tension between nurses and their superiors; at one point, after being criticised, I think by a doctor, one nurse walked away muttering "how stupid do you think I am? God help us..." It is not reassuring for patients to hear this sort of altercation. One of the issues we have heard much about in terms of the Whittington is the planned bed closures, and the worries that it would have adverse effects on healthcare out outcomes. Last year, in an apparent u-turn, the Whittington board stated that there would be no bed closures. However, in their report, they said, 'changes to wards and beds will still happen...these are dependent on services continuing to be commissioned at the Whittington Hospital.' When I remained in a lot of pain, to the extent that I fainted at one point, and when one of my incisions kept seeping through the dressing, it was reluctantly suggested that I stay overnight. The nurse in charge of my care at that point explained that there were no beds and so they would need to get rid of someone else before offering me a bed. I waited for several hours, in pain and afraid, but also angry that our vital NHS had deteriorated to this appalling extent.