"contacting ward for update"

About: Southmead Hospital

My brother was admitted to Southmead on Saturday evening. I rang on Sunday morning for an update, just after 7am. I fully appreciated that it was staff change over and agreed to ring later. I was given the number of the direct line. 4141324. Between 8am and 9 am I rang that number several times but no one answered. So I tried switchboard again and was put straight through and someone answered. I asked after my brother and the member of staff went and asked him how he was. I was expecting an update from the medical member of staff. The next day I went through it all again, trying the direct line first of all, then going through the switchboard. This time your system told me that gate 31 was invalid, so once again I had to go through the switchboard. Once again there was no one to give me an update on my brother's state. He was sent home on Monday evening. I think that when someone has been admitted to hospital via A&E then surely a professional should be able to tell me, his next of kin, what is actually going on? Communications need to be improved.

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Response from Southmead Hospital

Dear Anonymous – thank you for taking the time and trouble to post the details of your poor experience trying to contact Southmead Hospital and in relation to the response you received. I apologise that you were not able to easily contact the ward, clearly this is not the service we would wish to offer any patient or relative and the problems have been fed back to the ward so they can resolve this. On the issue of releasing information about a patient I apologise if the reason for not being able to advise you were not clearly explained. There are two issues; the first of consent and the second of data protection and staff have to be mindful of both. In retrospect it would have been helpful if a member of staff had confirmed with your bother (assuming he was able to communicate) that you were his brother and that he consented to you being informed of his treatment or progress. Please accept my apologies for your difficulties and the lack information explanation provided to you. Kind regards - Steve Sykes Advice and Complaints Team

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