"Ups and downs of the Royal Brompton experience"

About: Royal Brompton Hospital / Paediatrics

(as a relative),

Our 2 year old son was referred to the Royal Brompton following a series of nasty chest infections and we were admitted for some exploratory procedures under a general admission overnight.

Upon arrival, we were shown to a small wing off the main paediatric ward for day and overnight patients. There was only us and one other child there. The nurse was very sweet and took our details, but then proceeded to put the wrong name tag on our son- there was only 2 of them, how complicated can it be! luckily my partner spotted this and she laughed and swapped them over...!

She then wrote the name of a drug he is allergic to and attached this to his wrist. Again, she got this wrong and had written down a completely different drug (spotted once more by my partner who corrected her). It wasn't a promising start!

The care in general was ok I have to say and most of the staff were really lovely, especially those who greeted us as we arrived terrified in the pre-op room carrying our son. They really couldn't have been nicer. However the night we had was horrendous.

Post-op, our son was really not so good and we and the other patient were both in bed with the babies by half 8. Neither, myself or the other Mum had I think more than 5 minutes sleep that entire night. Firstly, there were continual deliveries of what sounded like building materials outside the window- either that or they were collecting recycling every 30 minutes for the duration of the night. It was horrendous. It was summer and so all the windows were open. I have lived in a city centre before so am not averse to the noise but this really was something else.

However, worse than that was the noise from other patients and relatives. There is a short corridor leading to the ward we were in that houses the regular and long stay patients. Most of these seemed to be older children or teenagers. Until around half 1 in the morning, they were in and out of each others rooms, families were in and out of the rooms shouting, laughing, racing up and down the corridor, playing loud music etc. It was like trying to sleep in a student union. There was no regard for anyone else and from what I could see the staff did absolutely nothing about it. I get that these kids are sick and are very familiar with their surroundings but it is absolutely unacceptable on a hospital ward. I remain shocked to this day frankly that it was allowed to go on.

The next morning our son had slept off the effects of the anaesthetic and was relatively bright. They provided him with breakfast...but not the parents who had slept on site. Now this is fine, but no-one told us where or when we could get food. If you wanted a hot drink you had to ask a nurse to go and make you one and in reality, you just are never going to interrupt them from caring for sick children to go and make you a cuppa! Bearing in mind that as a parent you have been on the ward for 24 hours by now, no-one had still indicated how when or where you might be able to get something to eat. And with a poorly and post operative child, it's simply not an option to wander off and find a local cafe! You can't take them off the ward, but you also can't leave them- what are you meant to do? Thankfully my partner had stayed locally and so spent the day running backwards and forwards getting food and drinks for myself and for the other patient's mum- who was on her own and so had no opportunity at all to get food.

I appreciate that we are not the patients, but no-one can go for 2 days without food and a little thought needs to be applied here. why can they not open up the small kitchen on the ward so you could at least make yourself a drink and some toast? I think it's ridiculous. Added to that, there are times during the day and evening when the hospital restaurant is closed and the cafe won't serve any food, so if that is the only slot you have to escape and run for food then tough luck.

Finally we had a ridiculously long wait to be discharged, for no discernable reason- if we are waiting for something then please communicate with us! No one minds waiting an hour for medication for example, but if you aren't told why you are being asked to sit at your bedside for 2 hours then it just becomes really frustrating. They also close the playroom at certain times for example for quiet time and for kids birthday parties (which there were 2 of in the 2 days we were there) so you have to leave and occupy a 2 year old on their bed for a couple of hours...impossible.

Finally one of the doctors was so vilely unpleasant it beggars belief. I did wonder whether I was feeling sensitive due to sleep deprivation but had the misfortune to see her in outpatients, speak to her over the phone and witness her reducing a teenager to tears in the middle of the waiting room with her attitude (she did return and apologise to her but really, is there any need to be so damn abrasive?).

All I would ask for is a bit of thought and respect. Ironically, the most senior person we dealt with (Prof Bush) was absolutely delightful and charming, compassionate and understanding. But for him, I would have made a storming complaint to the Trust but he saved their bacon.

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