"End of life care"

About: Sunderland Royal Hospital

My dad was receiving cancer treatment. He became weaker following a short stay at the hospital and was re-admitted following a fall at home. We received a telephone message from the ward sister that his condition had deteriorated and he had been moved to a side ward. When we visited no one came to talk to us. A family friend who is a GP had to insist that someone came and talked to us. The sister accompanied by a doctor who had previously not had anything to do with dad's care and admitted the doctor had never met him informed us that there was nothing more they could do and just make him comfortable for what time remained. Without the support of our GP friend we wonder if there would have been anything more said other than from a very sympathetic and supportive sister. It came as a shock to the family members who were there.

We were left feeling that end of life care was not given a high priority. Some of the nurses were very caring and ensured he had water to drink but others seemed to think he could manage when it was obvious he could not. There were times I believe he only got water if he had a family member or a friend visiting as he could not do it himself. When I mentioned this on the ward I was informed he had been shouting for water (my dad would not have done this unless he was desperate).

The day he died he had deteriorated again but no one from the hospital informed me of this. Once again the family friend who is a GP rang to inform me of this when they were visiting otherwise I wouldn't have been aware of his condition (I was visiting twice a day).The night nurse on duty the night my dad died was not a very sympathetic person. I felt like an inconvenience for asking questions. Death may be a common feature in hospitals but not to a family.

Also the details on his death certificate were wrong (his name and the date of death) which didn't help how I was already feeling about the situation. I would like to hope that this is not a typical experience .

Story from NHS Choices

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