"Oncology outpatients"

About: Queen's Hospital / Medical oncology

(as a carer),

I was caring for and accompanying a friend with terminal cancer to his outpatient's appointment at Queens Hospital. His health had rapidly declined in the proceeding days but we managed to attend the appointment, albeit with great difficulty.

The gentleman concerned had a severe episode of diarrhoea as we were getting him out of the car and into the wheelchair. There had been no prior episodes or warning else. The smell was very bad and there were faeces over the wheelchair and his trousers. I explained the situation to the receptionist, its severity and asked if a nurse could help clean him or we could move to a more appropriate area to wait for some assistance. No one got back to us. I asked again and this time a nurse gave us a some wet wipes, some hospital pyjamas and directed us to the toilets, but no practical help and no gloves.

So I had to try and help this gentleman, who was wheelchair bound, in great physical pain and entirely dependent, clean a bad case of diarrhoea in the waiting room toilet of the oncology department. Despite best efforts, faecal matter ended up in a surprising amount of places: the floor, in and around the sink, toilet roll dispenser and on the wheelchair. The whole experience was traumatic and humiliating, not to mention a complete disregard for any form of infection control. No staff member came to ask us if we were ok or anything, no suggestion that the cubicle would be immediately cleaned before anyone else used it. I dread to think of the potential germs the next user could have picked up.

I can appreciate the department may be busy, it was unpleasant and probably isn't in the usual remit of outpatients, but considering the situation and implications for hygiene, especially in oncology, I had thought we would have met with a little more sympathy and support.

Incidentally, the decision was taken to admit the gentleman during his outpatient's appointment as the diarrhoea and general decline suggested an infection. Once this was done nursing assistants were falling over themselves to help us and we couldn't have faulted anything. It's just concerning that common sense care wasn't provided from the outset.

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Response from Queen's Hospital

Thank you for your comment and I am very sorry to hear that you did not receive the level of required support from our staff. I can appreciate you concerns regarding this. I would like to investigate into this further and so please contact me through our PALS team on 01708 435 454 or email PALS@bhrhospitals.nhs.uk with more information. Yours sincerely Nadeem Moghal Medical Director

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