"From bicycle to hospital bed and beyond"

About: Heartlands Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

(as the patient),

I was knocked from my bicycle by a car last week, picked up by paramedics and admitted to Heartlands Hospital East Birmingham with a broken forearm. I was in the hospital for approx 3.5 days and these are my observations:

Wednesday lunchtime

Ambulance turned up promptly within 5 mins and drove me to the hospital. I would have preferred a hospital nearer home (Great Barr) but it was closer to the RTA. Paramedics quite efficient.

Wednesday pm

Seen almost immediately by nurse who assessed my injuries and sent me to X-ray. 5-10 minute wait - no problem. Returned to A+E, short wait to see doctor, viewed X-rays, identified 'radius fracture' and possible wrist dislocation.

Informed me what would need to be done but told me that there was a waiting list (many life threatening broken hips in queue) it would be best to stay in the hospital in a bed or the wait would be even longer.

Then the wait began. I sat in A+E on a trolley for approx 5 hours (a breach) waiting for a bed. A 'backslab' plaster support had been put on my arm and I was bought a drink and sandwiches but nevertheless it was a long wait. I was led to believe that once they found a bed I would be on the list for an operation the next day. When I finally walked onto the ward in the evening, I was given a bed, put on 'nil by mouth' and told I was on the list for the following day's ops.

Thursday am

The consultant came around the ward and told me that I would NOT be having the operation today because he had many other higher priority patients who took precedence. When I informed him that I was booked on a holiday on the Sunday, he said I would need to cancel it because I probably would not get operated on until after the weekend.

Thursday pm

I tried using the internet connection by my bed to do some urgent internet banking but it was useless (as the help line confirmed) because most useful sites were blocked. I had my 'credit' transferred to the phone service. I contacted work who said told me that I was eligible for Bupa treatment. I contacted Bupa customer services and was told to inform the ward nurse that I wanted Bupa treatment. The Bupa careline spent the afternoon chasing a consultant at the hospital to do the operation.

Friday am

I woke up to find I was now once again 'Nil by mouth' and on the list for operation that day.

Friday pm

I went down to theatre at 3pm, had the operation and was back on the ward at 5pm. I ate the meal eagerly even though the food was very bland and un-appetising.

Saturday am

The consultant came around early and told me I could go home today but was concerned that I had not had post-op antibiotics which I should have had. Once I had had the antibiotics I could go.

Saturday pm

Lunch came around and I was still there. Apparently, they needed a doctor to administer the antibiotic and they had been unable to find one all day. Meanwhile, my bed was sitting there un-used. Eventually I decided to force the issue, got dressed, packed up all my belongings and hassled the nurse. Voila! a doctor was found, the antibiotic administered, and I left for home at about 4pm.

My experience taught me:

1) On the whole, the staff seem experienced and thorough at their jobs but there are not enough of them to deal with the bureaucracy and paperwork which they have to deal with.

2) If a patient doesn't make a fuss then he gets forgotten. Hassle the staff and eventually you get progress - how inefficient.

3) If you mention BUPA, you get your operation quicker by the same consultant. Is this fair? I don't think so.

4) There aren't enough surgeons doing NHS operations.

5) The bed shortage is a result of inefficiencies in the system. Why should a bed be left empty for hours because a doctor can't be found to discharge a patient?

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Response from Simon Jarvis, Head of Patient Engagement, Heart Of England NHS Foundation Trust We are preparing to make a change

picture of Simon Jarvis
Many thanks for your posting. Could you please contact our PALS department on 0121 424 1212 or e-mail us on PALS@heartofengland.nhs.uk So that we can investigate your concerns further. Many thanks
  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful