"Not being a relative - not allowed to be involved"

About: West Middlesex University Hospital

(as a friend),

I am writing to describe my experiences of trying to help a very old, life long family friend ('D' 82yrs) who was admitted to West Middlesex University Hospital.

D is an old woman who has not married or had any children. She only has one living relative in the world, an elderly gentleman in his 80s, who lives a long way away and who was unable to help.

She was admitted to the West Middlesex University Hospital with an infection in the summer of 2008. At the time she was in reasonable health for someone of her age.

I found it so sad to watch her as she rapidly started to deteriorate both physically and mentally. Not being a blood relative I was unable to get any information about her progress from the ward sisters or the nurses, who would not discuss her health with me. They suggested that I should get in touch with D's consultant, who I subsequently wrote to, but did not even receive a reply.

I found this matter very upsetting and it has taken me quite a long time to get over the fact that I was unable to help her. I feel that now is the time to improve communication for future patients, so that this should never happen again.

I have also written to the health minister about my concerns, but he just recommended that I speak to the office of the Public Guardian and the Court of Protection, which I am now doing.

On the 23rd September, I wrote to the Chief Executive of the Trust – explaining the problems that I was having and my concerns for D's well being. I subsequently wrote to the Chief Executive again on November 4th 2008. I still have not received replies to my letters, not even the courtesy of an acknowledgement. This all took time, meanwhile D deteriorated and I was unable to help her.

In the meantime, I discovered that two doctors and a social worker sectioned D under the mental health act, although as far as I am aware they had never met her before. I am lead to believe that this was to enable them to give her electro therapy.

During her stay in hospital, she did not seem to be getting much stimulation, did not seem to be eating very much, so lost weight and became extremely thin. There always seemed to be uneaten food on her table whenever I visited her. Why were my offers of help and assistance completely ignored?

At the beginning of this year, D was discharged and sent to a very nice Care Home called Dudley House in Middlesex. She appears to be very happy, although she is virtually incapable of doing anything for herself now. It seems sad that an admission to hospital for treatment for an infection can end up in this way. From living independently prior to her admission to hospital, she now will never go home again, and will live out her days in a care home.

Looking at the West Middlesex University Hospital Trust web site they seem very proud of their core values:

• Respect and dignity for all

• Involvement of patients in all we do

• Openness, honesty and responsiveness

• Pride in what we do

• To delivery the best possible care/service at all time.

• To be friendly, helpful and welcoming.

• To offer to help, not wait to be asked.

Why in D’s case have these not been fulfilled and why was I seemingly completely ignored?

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