"Mental health should be as important as any physical treatment"

About: Forth Valley Royal Hospital / Acute assessment unit

(as a relative),

My wife was admitted to FVR with acute pain and placed in Room 7 on AAU3. My wife suffers from depression and bad nerves and her condition was exacerbated by the poor conditions in this room. The window does not shut properly, leading to a constant draught and whistling sound, made worse by the constant clatter of trolleys being pushed along the concrete walkway outside the window. However, the worst aspect was in the corridor outside the door, where a bleeper is mounted on the ceiling and this goes off loudly every few minutes making sleep virtually impossible. Apparently it is used by A&E to summon extra staff. Surely a better way can be found to alert staff than one which deprives sick people of any chance of sleep?

Clinical care was variable. Some of the staff were very good, but some were not so. My wife had surgery in November to remove the nails from both her big toes and these still had dressings on them which needed changing frequently. She says she asked eight times for these to be changed and eventually I had to bring in dressings and do the job myself.

A scan eventually revealed that my wife had a cancerous tumour on a kidney and this news was given to her bluntly by a doctor totally lacking in compassion and patient communication skills and, although she was obviously very upset, nobody offered to contact me (surely they should have asked me to come in before breaking the news to her? ) and she had to ask a nurse to phone me. Subsequently, we both had a meeting with a doctor from Urology who was both very professional and compassionate and in complete contrast to his colleague in his caring manner.

My wife is still traumatised and terrified of going back for an operation to remove a kidney. Subsequently, GP's from our local surgery have provided brilliant support, but they are shocked at the deterioration in my wife's mental condition as a result of her brief stay in FVR. Surely the mental well-being of a patient in hospital is as important as their physical treatment?

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Response from Arlian Mallis, Person Centred Health and Care Co-ordinator, Department of Nursing, NHS Forth Valley

Hi, Im sorry that you feel the experience of care and the environment in AAU was so difficult for you and your wife. You have highlighted a number of areas we could improve. I would like to share your posting with the staff in the area and ask them to respond.

In the meantime I would be happy to speak to you, you can contact me via email - arlian.mallis@nhs.net.

many thanks


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Response from Arlian Mallis, Person Centred Health and Care Co-ordinator, Department of Nursing, NHS Forth Valley

Hi, I was very disappointed to read your feedback. Firstly I would like to apologise that your wife’s experience of care particularly in relation to communication which was so distressing.

In relation to the environmental issues you have described we will ensure that any repairs / maintenance in the room are acted on immediately. The buzzer you describe is in fact the call system installed to alert nurses that patients within AAU/ED have pressed their buzzer. We will turn the sound down at night to try and reduce the noise and disturbance for patients.

Again I am disappointed that your wife found clinical aspects of her care variable, it would be really useful to discuss this further with you so that we can address any issues.

In relation to breaking bad news, this should always be done with care and compassion, your feedback will be shared with our full team including our medical staff, to highlight your wife’s experience, and we will reiterate the opportunities for staff to undertake communication skills training, and good practice in relation to breaking bad news.

You are correct in saying that a persons mental health needs are important, this should be considered in any care or consultation.

If you wish to contact me I would be available to speak to you by telephone or we can arrange a meeting, or you can meet with Arlian independently.

I hope your wife is feeling better, and that ongoing support is available to you both.

Charge Nurse Donna Clark

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Update posted by Annoyed Husband (a relative)

Sadly things don't seem to be getting any better, as we won't even get the results of the biopsy carried out on 9th January until 3rd February. This means that my wife will have waited seven weeks just to receive a basic diagnosis and I dread to think how long it will then take to put together any sort of treatment plan. Silly me thinking that the diagnosis and treatment of cancer was regarded as a priority by the NHS.

Response from Arlian Mallis, Person Centred Health and Care Co-ordinator, Department of Nursing, NHS Forth Valley

Thanks for getting in touch with me, please don't hesitate to contact me directly following your appointment should you need any assistance.



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Response from Arlian Mallis, Person Centred Health and Care Co-ordinator, Department of Nursing, NHS Forth Valley

Thanks very much for you email, I'm glad that your appointment went well.


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