"There was a distinct lack of empathy"

About: University Hospital Of North Durham / Older people's healthcare

(as a relative),

I am very disappointed with my recent experience of Ward 6. There are exceptions to what I am going to say but, in the main, the staff were abrupt and dismissive. There was a distinct lack of empathy for an old lady nearing end of life and I felt that the general opinion seemed to be that she did not warrant any further treatment. In my opinion, she was virtually written off due to her age and frailty. I even had a discussion with a consultant who had the gall to mention the need to use resources in the most appropriate way! I know that a frail old lady in her 90s is definitely nearing end of life ( aren't we all? ) but that does not excuse the lack of empathy and the overriding implication that by expecting continuing treatment that she was somehow draining NHS resources. My mother has certainly NOT been a drain on NHS resources as she had only been admitted once to an NHS hospital up to the age of 91 and that was to give birth! ! Admittedly over the last few years she has needed treatment on three occasions but that is hardly a cataclysmic drain on resources when you think of what A&E have to contend with on a weekly basis due to alcohol and drug abuse.

I would also question the level of hygiene in a ward where, I understand there was acute infection. The only time I saw the cleansing sprays used at the end of the beds was by a student paramedic. Nurses and doctors moved from one patient to another, all of whom had varying infections, without ever spraying or washing their hands.

My mother was discharged, prematurely in my opinion, but it was with great relief that she actually got out of this ward. Such a contrast to her previous stay in ward 5 where all staff were vigilant, friendly and pleasant.

A truly horrendous experience and I would never wish to see ward 6 or the vast majority of its staff again.

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Response from University Hospital Of North Durham

Thank you for providing feedback on your mother's recent admission to Ward 6 at the University Hospital of North Durham.

We are very sorry to hear that you were unhappy with her care on this occasion and your comments have already been sent directly to the ward team.

We are pleased however that her experience on Ward 5 was much better for her.

The staff are disappointed you were not satisfied with the care your mother received on Ward 6 as they do put the care of older people at the centre of everything they do on the ward.

Hand hygiene is taken very seriously on the ward, as it is across the Trust, and this is reflected in the good hand hygiene audit results (between 95 and 100%).

The Ward Team would be very happy to arrange to meet with you and discuss the concerns you have raised in further detail. If you feel this would be useful please contact the Trust's Patient Experience Team on 0800 7835774 and we will liaise with the ward to try to arrange this for you, mentioning this is in connection with a comment left on NHS Choices.

If you would prefer to contact us by e-mail, our address is patient.experience@cddft.nhs.uk

If you do decide to contact us, please make us aware that you have left comments on the NHS Choices website.

The Trust is grateful for all feedback, positive or negative, as it means we can better understand what is important to our patients.

Thank you for leaving your comments on NHS Choices.

Patient Experience Team

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust

Tel: 0800 7835774