"It's such a pity that the care did not live up to the facilities"

About: Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Glasgow / Accident & Emergency

(as a relative),

My aunt, aged 75, recently spent 2 weeks in the new QEUH in Glasgow and has asked me to post her comments on her behalf.

She was admitted overnight as an emergency and had a delayed admission through A&E, finally being admitted at about 2. 30AM to the Dermatology ward.

My aunt had three areas of concern during her stay, all of which were shared by myself and other relatives.

1. Communication was poor. We were given conflicting information by different nurses at different times. When asked the nurse in charge at the time didn't know the name of the doctor under whose care my aunt was being treated, when asked to look it up in the notes her reply was that everything was listed in initials and she didn't know whose initials they were. We were eventually given a name but on speaking to that Consultant's secretary discovered that she was not under her care. We finally spoke to someone completely different, who was helpful. My aunt has managed her medical conditions for many years but felt that the staff would not listen to her about what she needed and what would help her. So much for care being person centred.

2. Medication. My aunt has complex healthcare needs and a number of allergies. There were several mistakes made regarding her medication including prescribing eye drops which she has to use constantly throughout the day to which she is allergic, despite being told that she had to have a specific version of them which do not contain the preservative she is allergic to. The answer when the wrong ones were delivered was " This is all there is, you will just have to make do". We had to arrange for a supply of the correct medicine to be retrieved from her house for her. On her discharge the wrong eye drops were dispensed and the nurse commented " Oh, they have sent the wrong eye drops, again". They also dispensed a water retention tablet in 40 g with an instruction to take 10 g a day. The nurse asked her if she had a pill cutter in the house so she could quarter them! All of these medicines were left behind, and I know that having been dispensed for a particular person they would have to be destroyed. What a waste of money, never mind the potential risk if the patient isn't on the ball and noted that something wasn't right. My aunt observed that she was not impressed with the professionalism of the hospital pharmacy to which the nurse replied that nobody is. So much for care being safe and effective.

3. Food. My aunt has a number of food allergies including to fish, eggs and peppers. Taking any of these could cause an anaphylactic shock. These were clearly stated on the patient information board opposite her bed. Despite this she continually was offered meals she couldn't eat. One evening while I was present she was offered firstly fish and chips, then a quiche and finally a chicken curry. When asked if the curry might contain peppers the answer was " probably not". We expected that after a couple of days she would have been out on a special diet to cater for her needs especially as one of the issues she was being treated for was weight loss. When she was discharged she weighed 6 stone. On another occasion when I was present the only option she could safely eat was mince pie only to be then told it had run out. On that night as on others she was left with a sandwich. Again, so much for care being safe, effective and person centred.

It is such a pity that in such a beautiful new building the care did not live up to the facilities. My aunt was desperate to get out of the place and has vowed never to willingly return.

On the positive side she did receive intensive treatment for her skin, which was not the reason for her admission, but she has benefited from that.

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Response from Lorna Gray, Patient Experience, Public Involvement Project Manager, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Dear Mystery Shopper2,

Thank you for taking the time to write to us on behalf of your Aunt – I am really sorry that her stay did not live up to expectations, however I appreciate her wanting to give us this feedback so that we can learn from it. There are two of your points in particular that I’d like to focus on, which is the communication issues your Aunt experienced, as well as the problems she had with Pharmacy while in hospital.

Your story highlights where we need to improve our communication with patients and relatives. All patients are assigned a consultant on admission to hospital but the consultant caring for patients often changes when they are transferred to a different ward. This is what may have led to the uncertainty about who was caring for your Aunt at the time staff were asked and I can completely understand the frustration that this would cause. We will review this communication issue with staff, so that they can be clearer when speaking with patients and relatives which consultant is caring for them or their loved one.

Similarly, you are right when you say that patients’ views about the support they need it of upmost importance and should be taken on board by all staff in their caring for them and so we will use this experience to highlight to staff the importance of being person centred at all times.

We are concerned about the arrangement concerning a number of aspects of your Aunt’s medication. We have been aware that the level of pharmacy support on this ward was not at the level we would expect, and have been working with Pharmacy to improve this. We should now have support in place to minimise the problems that you highlight here, but I am very sorry that this was not in place at the time your Aunt was in hospital. I can understand the anxiety that this would have caused at the time and hope that the measures we have put in place will reduce this happening in the future.

I hope this provides you with some reassurance that we are working towards improving the issues you have highlighted, but if there is anything else you would like to raise, or if you would like any more information which is specific to your Aunt, then please do not hesitate to get in touch. The best way to do this is to email Lorna from the Patient Experience Team, on Lorna.Gray@ggc.scot.nhs.uk.

I wish you and your Aunt all the best,

Con Gillespie

Lead Nurse, Dermatology

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Update posted by Mystery Shopper2 (a relative)

Thank you for your reply to two of the three concerns we raised.

Would you care to comment on the third before I can decide if it is helpful, or not?

That is the issue of someone with severe , known, food allergies being continually offered inappropriate meals and no special diet established despite being in the same ward for 2 weeks.