"Serious problems at the Northern General"

About: Northern General Hospital Sheffield

(as a friend),

In August 2007 my father died in the Northern General Hospital. The circumstances of his death lead to a hospital investigation (which took several months), a Healthcare Commission investigation (which roundly condemned the hospital) and a coroner's inquest (18 months after the event), which found that my father's death was unnatural as a result of the hospital's neglect and failures. My family was sent reams of official documents by the hospital purporting to show that new procedures had been put in place to prevent the same thing happening again, and we were given endless assurances to the same effect. One of the issues we had was patients being starved of food because nurses/auxiliary staff could not be bothered to help those too ill, elderly, confused or infirm to feed themselves, (my father lost a stone in weight during a 10-day stay in hospital), another was failure to deal with pressure sores by not using the Waterlow score properly/not providing the appropriate type of mattress for the patient's needs.

Fast-forward 2 1/2 years. A family friend has a 3-week stay on Brearley 1 in the Northern General, and during that time sees exactly the same thing happening time and gain - patients being served with meals, being unable to eat them, receiving no help (or even an enquiry as to whether they would like help) and the meal being removed untouched at the end of service. She told us this when we visited her, and doesn't know anything about the circumstances of my father's death other than he died in hospital.

This same friend, who has a lot of problems with her legs and circulation, returns home with bed sores on her heels, which the hospital failed to do anything about until the morning of the day she was discharged. The nursing staff failed to even ascertain that she was at risk of developing, or had developed, bed sores, and still discharged her, presumably knowing of her mobility and circulation problems. Our friend is now terrified she will develop leg ulcers, which she has had before and took a very long time to heal...

Moral of this story -I now don't believe a word that anyone in the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust tells you (our assurances came from the very top - the Chief Exec) and if you have an infirm, elderly or very sick relative or friend, watch them like a hawk to make sure they are getting enough to eat and drink, that their condition is not deteriorating, and if you have any concerns pester the staff and keep pestering until something is done.

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