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"Stressful, distressing and upsetting."

About: Wansbeck Hospital

What could be improved

I visited this hospital between 27 December 2011 and 26 January 2012 whilst my wife was there with a terminal illness. It cost me £70 in car parking charges and it was not until 25 January, the day before she died, that I was given a car park exemption permit. Whilst I would have given anything to be with my wife in her final weeks I was disgusted that my stress and distress was made worse by this insensitive treatment. I even enquired of the nursing staff to see if I could buy a permit to save the hassle of continually feeding the meter but was told I could not.

If you add to that the difficulty of finding a parking space on many occasions you can be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that the welfare of relatives is not high on the agenda.

I was led to believe that visitors could use the car park at the nearby Ashington Football Club but the NHS notice at the gate clearly said 'Staff permit holders only'.

Whilst I realise that parking charges can be necessary I do think that there needs to be some flexibility to cover situations like mine and also reserved parking spaces for those visiting terminally ill patients. And I think it should be offered without having to request it.

The site no smoking policy is blatantly ignored and appears not to be enforced. This is evident by the quantity of dog ends at the entrances near to the no smoking signs. This is not only visitors but patients with their drip trollies etc who must have had permission to leave the wards and are highly conspicuous. In December/January during the high winds the revolving door was locked and visitors had to use the disabled ramp that was full of smokers and I had to battle my way through their filthy smoke. It was more like visiting a seedy pub than a hospital. I raised this at the reception but was told that nothing could be done because people became abusive! I also raised it with two of the nursing staff and had similar responses.

Anything else?

There are no signs at the south entrance indicating the location of the Bereavement Office. I understand that there was a notice displayed at one time but was removed at the instigation of a hospital management for some reason. The Bereavement Office is tucked away around a corner and is a poky little office with poor facilities that are an insult to bereaved relatives. At this distressing time the environment should reflect the needs of relatives who have already suffered trauma before arriving at that point. My 'Hobsons Choice' alternative was to collect paperwork from the ward where my wife had died that again is highly insensitive.

When the hospital telephone you they withhold their number and if they do not leave a message then you have no idea who has called and why. This causes distress and anxiety. Also you have no way of differentiating between these calls and nuisance calls so have to answer calls you otherwise would not. This is also thoughtless and uncaring.

The hospital appears to operate on a 9 to 5 basis with considerably reduced service and cover at Christmas/ New year, at the weekends and at nights. This clearly impacts on patient care, is incomprehensible and is worse than many retailers providing a considerably less important service.

Finally, in the Chapel of Rest there were two boxes of paper hankies on a table. Very thoughtful you might think except that someone had placed a pile of leaflets immediately behind them entitled 'Tissue Donation'. Would be amusing in a TV comedy sketch but here it just added to the feeling of insensitivity and thoughtlessness. The leaflets should not be there in the first place putting pressure on already upset relatives.

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Response from Wansbeck Hospital

Thank you for your comments posted on this website regarding your experience at Wansbeck General Hospital. The Trust is sorry to hear of your distress especially at such a very sad time for you. Please accept our sincere apologies.

If you would like to contact the Trust at the address below we are willing to reimburse you for the expenses around parking and it would also be useful to discuss with you some of the other issues you have raised. The address for correspondence is:

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Patient Services

Northumbria House

Unit 7/8 Silver Fox Way

Newcastle upon Tyne

NE27 0QJ

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful