"What I observed was disappointing"

About: Worthing Hospital / General surgery

(as a relative),

After a referral from his GP for minor but emergency surgery my partner spent 12 hours in 'Emergency Zone A' of Worthing Hospital.

I joined him after 8 hours of this wait and sat with him. What I observed was very, very disappointing.

Whilst the staff appear to be trying to do their best (although they are understandably brusque) there are simply not enough of them, particularly at night (whilst the staffing rates indicate 90% achieved it is clear that the benchmark set is simply not high enough in any event making this a meaningless target).

There are no care assistants after 8 pm so anyone admitted after this time will not receive the pledged, tea, water or 'hot meal', in fact my partner received none of these over the 12 hours he was there despite not knowing whether he was to be operated on.

The hospital is not clean if what observed is the standard, I saw a cleaner mop around a few items whilst I was there but did not attend any of the cubicles one of which contained a wheel chair with a container of urine on it. A medicine cabinet was also left open and unattended in the room where I am at one point three patients were detained.

When it eventually came to taking my partner up to surgery the anaesthetist, after seeing that the only available wheelchair was dirty not only asked for it to be cleared (it was not and the full urine container stayed there for another 2 hours at least) but after finding a wheelchair himself took my partner to the theatre (9. 30 pm).

I was advised that I would be told when my partner was out of surgery. After sitting in Zone A for a further two hours and asking whether I might be told if he was well, out of theatre and what ward he was in I was advised by a senior nurse that he was still in surgery (I was very concerned by this as that meant he had been in the operating theatre for two hours). After making enquiries with a doctor this was not the case - he had been transferred onto a ward some time earlier but the computer had not been updated and I was initially told he was in Emergency Zone A. I then had to explain that he was not as that was where I had come from.

I am not impressed by being told something quite distressing that was not in fact true. I am not sure who runs this department but it is not managed well - it appears the doctors know more than the nurses which seems strange as they are the front line. My partner is currently in a bed awaiting discharge but the doctor who was supposed to confirm this at 9. 00 am has still not reached him (noon) - no wonder beds are hard to come by.

So not value for money, badly managed, dirty and understaffed. Roles are confused and there are no staff available who can advise patients and or relatives what is going on - making it very awkward for the front line staff to do the jobs they were trained and employed to do.

It appears that cutting administrative staff has been totally counter-productive. Western Sussex Hospital Foundation Trust has let its staff and the users down. I have a back ground in clinical negligence claims and I sincerely hope that the Trust by its severe (and it appears deliberate) policy of under staffing is not exposing its staff, patients and funders to an increased level of claims.

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Response from Jonathan Keeble, Head of Communications and Engagement, Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

We are very sorry to hear of your recent experiences while your partner has been receiving care with us

Your observations are taken extremely seriously.

Please could you make contact with our patient liaison team (PALS) so we can discuss in person with you and / or your partner.

You could contact them direct by calling 01903 285032 or you can email PALSWorthing@wsht.nhs.uk. Alternatively you can raise this directly with the ward sister.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your concerns and we look forward to hearing from you.

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