"I was a patient on Ward 3 having ..."

About: South Tyneside District Hospital

(as the patient),

What I liked

I was a patient on Ward 3 having had a Hysterectomy. This was not key hole surgery for medical reasons and afterwards I was in a lot of pain. Whilst in the recovery room a person who had been in theatre with me took really good care of me and stayed with me throughout until my pain was stabilised enough for me to be moved back to the ward. I was given a pcn to help me control my pain which I was advised I could push the button on every 5 mins if need be to administer pain relief myself. I also received the services of a doctor from the Acute pain management service who checked on me throughout the night along with the nurses on the ward to ensure I was made as comfortable as possible. My consultant and the anaesthetist spoke to me pre op and I was very satisfied that they had answered all my questions and concerns. I cannot fault them at all.

What could be improved

The main problems I encountered on the ward was that it seemed to be extremely understaffed. For the whole duration of my stay, myself and other patients on the ward some of whom were very elderly felt as if we were being ignored on many occasions. When someone is in pain or ill upon asking for assistance you dont expect people to jump to attention but I don't think anyone could find it unreasonable to expect attention within 30 mins! At one point I had to give the elderly person in the bed next to me the blankets from my bed as she was shivering and after repeated requests to different members of staff a whole day later no blanket had appeared! Several of us where wearing anti embolism stockings after surgery and when one person went to shower and came back they discovered that they ahd been taken away when the bed sheets had been changed by accident. They repeatedly had to ask for the stockings to various staff members which again took all day to arrive. Certain people were left without painkillers for long periods of time when they were overdue and I felt that this made them feel ignored. I appreciated that this ward is very busy but the staffing urgently needs to be looked at. Staff and domestics all seemed to be constantly running about and stressed out. Several of them disclosed to me how there were not enough people on the shifts to cope with the amount of work. When I was first admitted to the ward my bed was not fully prepared for me and a green top cover never appeared until the day I was discharged. As I had given away my only blanket to someone more needy I slept with only a sheet covering me for the duration. There were blood splatters on the armchair at the side of my bed which were never cleaned off the whole time and I actually cleaned my own table with antiseptic wipes as it was filthy upon my arrival. When the cleaners did come they did appear to clean thoroughly, but I would have expected my bed and surrounding area to have been checked beforehand.

Anything else?

I felt that during my stay the staff responsible for my care were to stressed out and rushed to be able to take proper care of me. My husband had to ask for my catheter bag to be emptied before it exploded and I felt that all of my observations were not recorded when staff were too busy. I also left hospital with a urinary tract infection that I did not have upon admission. When I advised a staff nurse that I didn't think my urine should be as it was, they dismissed me and said it would have been checked, which I feel sure it wasn't. When the catheter was removed I spent a lot of time wandering around looking for someone to help me get a sample pan myself as none were left in the toilet areas and when I asked for one none ever came in time. I also had to ask for people to come and scan my bladder to see if i was retaining urine at various times as I knew that I would not be allowed home before these scans were completed, which I felt they did not have time to do. All in all, I felt that most of the staff did the best job they could under extremely difficult conditions and that most days there were woefully inadequate staffing levels of fully qualified staff who were able to do the more skilled work on the ward. At night there were usually only 2 fully qualified nurses, the remainder of staff were auxiliary nurses who were unfortunately not permitted or qualified to carry out certain tasks. I think that the ward certainly had good points but these were outweighed by the bad experiences I had.

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Response from South Tyneside District Hospital

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to let us know of your experience on Ward 3. I am extremely sorry that you found a number of aspects of care to be less than satisfactory and I will ask our Matron for this area to review the points you have raised with the Ward Manager and her team so that we can look to make any necessary improvements. If you would like to write to me at the hospital with your details I will be very happy to provide you with a fuller personal response to your specific concerns.

Thank you also for commenting on the positive aspects of your experience, I will of course make sure that these are fed back to the staff concerned.

I hope you are making good progress in returning to full health

Best wishes

Lorraine Lambert

Chief Executive

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