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"Grateful to those who helped, angry and sad at..."

About: St Mary's Hospital (London)

What I liked

As a relative of an elderly patient who was admitted via A & E and who has been on two different wards since. I am commenting on the whole experience up until now. Staff at A & E are wonderful, kind and considerate given the difficulties that occur in that dept. They treated my relative with the utmost compassion and dignity, reassuring her all the time. Nothing was too much trouble and I was even offered a very welcome cup of tea by the staff. They really are wonderful.

My relative was transferred to a different ward which I will comment on below, my comment here is for the second ward she was on.

It is male and female but in two completely seperate sections. The ward is very busy with what I assume are all medical patients, many obviously needing high care levels. From what I coud see there were at least 14 patients not including those in side rooms. When I asked about what seemed to be low staff levels, I was informed by a nurse that there were just three nurses to cover the whole ward, one of whom was an agency nurse. There can be no justification for such low levels of staff, I saw with my own eyes the impossibility of providing care to the whole ward with just three of them, it really is disgusting. Some patients may need lifting by two nurses, that leaves just one for the remaining patients? Appalling and St Mary's should be ashamed that this is happening. I commend the nurses for managing as well as they do in the circumstances in which they work but they need more staff.

What could be improved

Staffing levels-dangerously low in my opinion. Which could factor into what I have to say next, I'm not sure.

However, while my relative was in the care of the first ward she transferred to, she ended up with a facial laceration and bad bruising under her eye. This was caused apparently by a member of staff insisting on washing her face with her glasses still on and when she tried to remove them, she was prevented from doing so. I am disturbed and angry that a member of staff has used such force while dealing with a very elderly (compliant) patient as to actually cause her a black eye and I am taking the matter further.

What I find more disturbing is what seems to be a cover up afterwards. When a carer spoke to staff about what happened, she asked if the incident had been documented in any way-it had not. There also seemed to be confusion about when it happened, with inital insistence it had happened on a day when it hadn't. Carer was told that the matter would be documented.

When I went to speak to someone on the ward, I found out that although a staff nurse knew what had happened, it still wasn't documented. They insisted it happened on a particular day but as relative was visited on that afternoon and was injury free it did not happen then. As it happened during a wash it is safe to assume it happened on the morning of the following day, the same day she was transferred to another ward.

Anything else?

I'm afraid I felt that I was treated with a dismissive attitude when I said I wished to find out about making a formal complaint. I also had difficulty getting a straight answer as to why no record had been made of the incident. I showed the sister who I spoke to after the staff nurse the photo's of my mum's injuries-she seemed to take the matter seriously then.

I will be contacting PALS as suggested. My immediate concern however, is that there is somebody working on that ward who knows what they did and the injury they caused by careless and rough handling and has not had the decency to document it. Even after the request from the carer on Friday afternoon it was still not documented, which leads me to think they hoped it would be brushed under the carpet.

I feel saddened that this has happened but angry that a serious matter can be treated with such dismissal.

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