About: Chase Farm Hospital

What I liked

A year ago my mother was rushed to Chase Farm Hospital on the Good Friday, and died on the Easter Monday. She deteriorated over the weekend and did not pass away peacefully. I subsequently found out (after going through the very frustrating complaints procedure) that she died of peritonitis caused by steroids she had just started to take as part on cancer treatment.

Apart from initially misleading information from a doctor on the Good Friday, no doctors spoke to me until she had died (giving me a wrong cause of death in the process!).

As part of the complaints procedure, I met with 2 of the doctors who had treated her. It was explained that she was unlucky to fall ill on a bank holiday. A doctor did not speak to me after Good Friday because only a small team of emergency doctors were on-call and didn’t have the time. My mother knew that she was very ill, but remained positive. During my visits that weekend (about 8 hours each day), she was talking about the future and did not think she was going to die despite the situation. Nursing staff indicated that she was being ‘built-up’ for further cancer treatment.

The lack of communication from doctors is devastating. On her final day, my mother was heavily drugged. It still didn’t stop the pain and occasionally she became alert. During those occasions, she desperately tried to speak but was unable to. She knew then that she was about to die and wanted to say her goodbyes. The lack of communication from doctors denied her this.

The fact that my mother was denied a chance to say her ‘goodbyes’ to her family is the one thing I can’t come to terms with. All of the other issues with her treatment are moving towards the back of my mind but this one isn’t.

If any of you anticipate being, or visiting family/friends, in Chase Farm over a bank holiday or weekends, don’t be surprised if you haven’t got a clue what is going on.

What could be improved

Basic communication

When the NHS says something is treatable, they don't means something can be fixed, or stopped from getting worse etc. They often mean, just pain killers.

When my mother was on a ward a month earlier at Chase Farm, she needed morphine. Morphine isn't on the drugs trolley. The nurses get it separately. They kept saying to my mother they will be back in a minute with it. They often didn't come back, leaving my mother in pain and having to scream for it. How difficult can it be to get this right?

As part of the complaints process, the hospital say they have passed this on to those concerned. Have they or did they just tell me that?

Anything else?

There are many other aspects to my mothers experiences at Chase Farm (none of the favourable) during her final few months but no space to go into them here.

My mother had a choice of 4 hospitals to receive treatment after being referred by her GP (nearly a year after he first felt pain!). None of the hospitals would have cured the cancer, but none could treat patients and family as Chase Farm did.

Choose carefully.

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from Chase Farm Hospital

I was so sorry to read your concerns and apologise for the very difficult time that you and your family experienced, whilst your mother was being treated at Chase Farm Hospital. I am sorry that you found the complaints procedure very frustrating, as we work hard as a Trust to ensure that all complaints are handled in a timely and sensitive manner. I would be pleased if you would accept my condolences and apologise for the additional problems that you were caused.

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