"My elderly mother (87) was admitted ..."

About: Southampton General Hospital

(as a relative),

What I liked

My elderly mother (87) was admitted via A&E by ambulance. She was treated swifly and with care as we, her family, were.

Throughout her stay my mother says that the staff were kind and caring and altho nervous of going into hospital (her first visit since giving birth at the Southampton Unit in 1948 & 1952) she would not worry about having to go into hospital again. She said the food was very good.

What could be improved

For us as a family the first problem was being able to park. After a long journey to Southampton it is extremely stressful not being able to find a place to

park. This was particularly difficult when my mother was being discharged and was in a wheelchair. When a patient is discharged you are left to cope with getting a vulnerable person to the carpark alone. Parking charges are exorbitant - why are they so high?

Lack of communication was our biggest issue. We met with the doctor in A&E on day one but that was our last meeting with a doctor. We received no indication of what was wrong with my mother until our GP interpreted the discharge notes 24 hours after discharge. Family members visited daily and telephoned but no information was forthcoming. At one point we were told that she was undernourished and Social Services and a dietician would need to be involved before she could come home to ensure a care package was agreed. We were given a discharge date and consequently arranged days off work etc only to becontacted 48 hours earlier than the agreed time and asked to collect immediately. The Social Services and dietician were no longer considered necessary now her bed was needed. When I explained that I could not get to Southampton (30 miles away) that evening it was suggested that my mother could be discharged in a taxi in a dressing gown until she pointed out that had no door keys to gain admission to her house.

When I collected her I was given her medication, but still not told what had been wrong with her. Lack of understanding of English was a problem with telephone conversations.

Anything else?

This is such a pity - such strengths particularly in the area of care, but such poor communication with her family. We are a Southampton family (now spread afield) and my first experience of this hospital was as a child when it was the Borough Hospital. It is always a traumatic time when a family member is in hospital and families do need to be communicated with and kept informed. If something is deemed necessary as the care package and dietician were then it should be carried out and not dismissed because her empty bed was more important.

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Response from Southampton General Hospital

Thank you for taking the time to leave this detailed feedback. We have forwarded your comments to the Emergency Department but we'd highly recommend that you raise these matters with our Patient Advice and Liaison team on pals@suht.swest.nhs.uk or 023 8079 8498, so that they can get in touch with the other wards and staff involved in your mother's care. They will also be able to direct you to the external agencies such as social services and primary care trusts who would have been involved jointly in decisions about her discharge.

We are currently reviewing our transport strategy including car parking arrangements and continue to send the comments posted on this site to our transport team.

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