"Midlands Spinal Unit not so special"

About: Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital / Midlands Centre for Spinal Injuries

(as the patient),

I was transferred to the Wrekin ward which is the acute admissions ward for spinal injury patients for the midlands. I had gone there in the belief, and having been told by my referring hospital that they would be experts in the management of my ongoing spinal injury.

I was shocked at the lack of communication and professionalism that I experienced. It is important for me to state here that I was there only for a short time and was not needing to be taught how to handle such issues as total paralysis but some of the issues I will disclose should have nothing to do with that, they are around privacy and dignity.

From a nursing perspective my call bell was continually left out of my reach, and I would need to call verbally for the nursing team.

I would estimate that less than 1 in 3 of the nurses told me their name as they came to me for the first time. I think I met more than 20 of them within the first 48 hours of my admission.

There was lots of undermining of the previous medical team's practice with reference to my care by the team at Oswestry which made me feel vulnerable and defensive.

The nursing teams would talk about other issues when they were with me that I should not have heard about, which included how they felt about members of the nursing team either getting/or not getting a job. At one point despite my curtains being around the bed space and a nurse telling her colleague not to come in because I was not decent the nurse colleague continued to tell the attending nurse about a staff issue she needed to debrief about.

Although I was written up for drugs I was not actually given them because they were missed off for 48 hours.

I was left in urine for more than 25 mins after ringing my call bell. It was cold and smelly and there was no apology for the length of time I had waited.

Nurses did not seem to use with consistency basic pieces of equipment or give consistent advice about specific symptoms so as a patient you were left to wonder what was the right thing to do. Every day nurses went for their handover all at once at 19.00hrs for up to half an hour, at which point it was not possible to ask for any sort of help.

The medical team were not inclusive, what they wanted was what would happen and there was no patient input at all in terms of trying to understand ongoing care. The example I would give relates to the removal of my catheter but the insistance that this happened prior to me being able to use a commode or loo which meant that I would have to try and pee horizontally knowing that I would be able to sit in a more normal position in 2 days time I expressed my concern that I found this psychologically difficult and rather unnecessary and yet it still went ahead.

I was glad that visiting hours could be from midday to 8pm so that my visitors could be with me for a good proportion of the day.

I find it hard to believe that this unit is a specialist centre when so many of its basic care issues seem to left behind. I know from experience that patients with an acute medical condition would be transferred out of the hopital to the Royal Shrewsbury hospital they seemed unable to deal with such issues despite being an an acute unit, and being within the district hospital. I ask myself why I actually got transferred there and what my teaching hospital could not have done given the care I experienced. I struggle to give a satisfactory answer.

Things that need instantly changing are the nurses' professionalism, communication between the teams, and the complete lack of nursing presence during handover time.

I have deliberately left my repetition of some my experiences for a month so that some of the emotion has gone away, however, as I write this I sincerely hope that in some way there could be a change in the care given which is believed to be expert and which at an individual level left me scared and desperate to leave.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››


Response from Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital

Our aim is to provide high quality services for all our patients and we are disappointed that your experience has not met the standards we set. The Trust is committed to listening to patients and improving their experience. If you would like the issues you have raised looking into, please contact the Trusts’ Patient Advice and Liaison Service by telephoning (01691) 404606; by emailing PALS.office@rjah.nhs.uk or write to PALS Officer, the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY10 7AG