"Why I signed myself out of Southport Hospital"

About: Southport & Formby District General Hospital

(as the patient),

I am writing to tell you about a recent experience I had in our local N.H.S. hospital in Southport, please bear with me and read to the end.

I went to my local G.P. with an inexplicable pain, probably caused by a recent intervention I underwent to drain some fluid from my left lung lining (pleura). This pain was so persistent, that my G.P. referred me to the Southport and Ormskirk district hospital for further investigations.

My husband took me along at mid-morning, to the ward where I was previously, known as A.E.U. I was admitted, as they were expecting me, and after a brief wait, shown to a bed, to await treatment. The doctors came around during the afternoon and decided that there was residual fluid in the pleura along with potentially life-threatening blood-clots that were causing the pain and breathlessness. They decided that I had to stay in to have X-rays, a scan within 48 hours, and follow-up treatment.

Luckily, I had already packed an overnight bag and contacted my husband, who very obligingly brought it in. I stayed overnight in the A.E.U. ward, which was as comfortable as hospital ever is.

The staff could not have been kinder, some remembering me from my previous visit, barely two weeks before. The place was clean, and the standard of care was excellent. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble. The food was good, but not enough time was allowed to eat it before staff in their indecent haste, wanted to clear away.

However, the next day, after an X-ray that determined my lung problem was no worse than before, it was decided to admit me for the weekend, to await a scan at 10.30am on Monday 26 October 2009. Note: this is longer than the promised 48 hours. My heart sank at the thought of kicking my heels in the hospital all weekend, simply waiting around, bored rigid. Even so, I set my mind to it, realising I was probably in the best place, and what the doctors wanted.

Unfortunately, I was found a bed in another ward during the Friday, which was to be my “home” for the weekend. I say unfortunately, because it housed six beds, two of which were occupied by senile dementia patients. Having experienced dementia patients before in hospital, my heart sank to a new low.

During the afternoon were fairly quiet, but things got noisier and more disruptive and the day wore on.

The sight and sound of someone with dementia in distress is hardly conducive to rest and recuperation. This even went on during visiting time and was not pleasant for anyone, let alone the demented person.

Resting in, or on my bed, was impossible. The racket even drowned out the Archers, that I was attempting to hear through my radio headphones.

My husband came for a brief visit, and we could barely hear ourselves speak. I felt very sorry for the other patients in the ward, as they have no choice but to remain. All this unbelievable racket and disruption continued until around 8.30pm, by which time, in sheer desperation I had taken a chair and was sitting in the relative calm of the corridor, but still able to hear the noise, despite being partially deaf and through closed fire doors.

By this time I was physically and mentally quite exhausted, having been awake since 6:30am, and unable to have any rest during the day, due to hospital routine, visitors, moving wards, etc. All I needed to do was rest and have a peaceful evening, to help my recovery.

This was not to be, with both dementia patients in full swing. It was horrendous, and by now I was at the end of my tether.

I went to the staff work station and stated in no uncertain terms, that either these people were moved, or I would drag my mattress into the corridor and attempt to sleep there.

They patiently explained to me that there was nothing they could do, as all the side rooms were taken up with other dementia patients! This cannot be right!

That was it. Enough was enough. I went and packed all my belongings and put on my coat and announced that I was going to get the bus home. However, the staff let me ring my long-suffering husband so he could come and get me. At around 9:30pm I discharged myself, feeling utterly exhausted.

I did however, ask if I could be released for the weekend at my own risk, and return on Monday for my scan, but that is not their policy, especially as my condition is potentially life-threatening.

I am writing this from home, when I should really be in the hospital, but after my experience I do not want to spend another night at Southport hospital.

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