"Two wards worlds apart in standards"

About: University Hospital Of North Durham / General surgery

(as a carer),

My elderly mother was admitted for major surgery, this was following some really poor unquantified information given to my mother by a doctor at DMH 5 years ago. Sadly my mother has suffered unnecessarily for this 5 years, she was deprived of making informed consent, mam was dismissed as too high a risk for the surgery needed, this decision was made without any investigation. Mam was so frightened by what the surgeon had told her, her mind was made up, she wouldn't allow us to seek another opinion until things finally got so bad her symptoms rendered her housebound and her health started to really deteriorate This prolonged period of deteriorating ill health finally convinced her to see our GP who did an amazing job of encouraging mam to see Mr Cundall for his opinion. I'm so relieved we made that visit,

from the moment we met Mr Cundall he listened, he was empathic but most of all he cared, he explained things fully and professionally and he was thorough. Not once did he look at my mam and dismiss her as "some old woman". Mr Cundall treat my mam with respect, he treat her as the matriarch which she is in our family he assessed her thoroughly to help reassure her regarding the safety of this operation at my mams age.

The Anaesthetic assessment team and Julie the Nurse Practitioner were equally as reassuring, thorough, safe and caring examining every detail fully im forever grateful for this.

Day of surgery approached my mam was terrified, her fear despite the excellent assessment to reassure her was that she would not come out of the anaesthetic. Mam was admitted to Day surgery the team there were lovely with her from there she was planned to go to HDU for 24hrs but tbere was no bed availability so she returned from theatre onto ward 16 where she was cared for by Louise Keating and the wonderful team on there, I'm confident that although mam was a high dependancy patient on a surgical. ward she simply could not have been better or more safely cared for. I was super impressed by the care and professionalism, warmth and encouragement given to mam during some very poorly episodes. Mam developed a nasty sepsis with a CRP of over 300 and her wound became badly infected and dehisced but this was no reflection of any flaw in the care received. I am entirely indebted to. the ward 16 team in entirety my mam was petrified the sheer thought of going to hospital horrifies her but they helped and encouraged her through a very serious episode of care in the safest and most caring way possible. Thankyou so much to all of the above teams mentioned they are true professionals and a credit to your trust.

I'm afraid the good bits end there, by stark contrast to above mam was transfered to ward 15 because urgent beds to bring sick patients into were becoming incredibly tight. Mam was moved after 11pm at night we know all too well of the pressures that make these decisions all to real and needy. It's very difficult to the make a rapport with a whole new team of people, nurses, hostesses drs when youve become comfortable elsewhere, some effort has to be made for this to happen and unfortunately this wasn't the case. The new team were all unfamiliar with mam and how scared she was it was like being looked after in another country or continent the standard of care was so far removed from the standard in Ward 16 I simply couldn't believe it. My first angst was apparent the minute I visited mam for the first time on ward 15 mam was in a side ward from 12pm night before this was 1230 pm next day and the floor was filthy, sticky, something had been spilt, there were footprints dirty and engrained on the floor, mam had an infected open surgical wound this after all is a plastics/orthopaedic ward im led to believe!

The floor remained dirty and unwashed for mams entire stay but for a spot of dry mopping in two occasions. The ward sister was lovely polite, attentive and cheerful I really wanted to air my concerns but mam asked me not too she made me promise I wouldn't. One of the nurses was obstructive when I was asking questions pertinent to my mams care, unhelpful when I asked for anything for mam and during one phone call was very rude to me. I was asking what the discharge plan was for mam her proteins were low and falling as her appetite was dreadful postoperative. When I said this to the nurse she asked me abruptly where I had got that information how did I know mams proteins were low. I informed her that the helpful nurses on Ward 16 told me this and that a dietician had seen mam to get supplementary drinks for her. I asked if mam could be discharged on Fortisips to aid the healing process this nurse told me no, again abruptly and rudely, she told me she will have to drink high protein drinks so I asked for clarification she replied milk from a shop! I was horrified at how rude and obtuse this nurse was. I challenged again to say why could mam not be discharged on fortisips when she was prescribed them, she replied our pharmacy don't supply them so you will have to go to the GP. My question why should I have to do that?

I went off the phone and rang pharmacy and ward 16 to ask for the process for discharging a patient in fortisips I was told the same by both (which I know happens in other hospitals) they are given a discharge supply from ward stock which is then topped up. Again I went back in the phone to the nurse to rechallenge, I told her I had enquired elsewhere she advised me she would have to see If a dr would agree to prescribe them, I asked her not to speak over me while I was trying to talk and that I was upset at her attitude for which she apologised. Following my conversation with the nurse she went to my mam and asked did I do for an occupation as I'd been on the phone. My mam told her I was a Specialist Nurse and department manager not that this had anything to do with mams care. Again I felt this nurses behaviour to be inappropriate.

When I arrived to see mam she told me the nurse had redressed her wound and that she had been gentle and hadn't hurt at all she asked me not to say anything or complain about the dirty floors and the rude attitude of the nurse, mam just wanted to get home nothing more. When the nurse came in to discuss mams discharge details I tried to compliment her telling her mam was relieved and delighted at how good she had been during dressing renewal that mam was dreading it hurting and it hadn't at all. Sadly she couldn't even accept that graciously and said if she can't replace a dressing after she's been doing it for a number of years it's a bad job. It was almost a sneer my poor mam was uncomfortable, I didn't retort I was clearly wasting my time.

I've written this because of the stark and sad contrast involved in this one episode of care. I'm flabbergasted how two wards next to each other are so world's apart in standards, care, compassion and cleanliness.

Thankyou again to all of ward 16 true ambassadors of patient care, to Mr Cundall for his expertise and wonderful reassuring attitude and care and to the amazing Day surgery and Anaesthetic assessment team, wonderful examples of all that is good in our amazing NHS.

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