"My husband's treatment"

About: Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital / Clinical oncology Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust

(as a relative),

My husband was admitted to the NNUH late last year with a suspected stroke. He spent some time on the stroke unit and was then moved to Dunston Ward where a very astute consultant sent him for a CT scan because he was not displaying typical signs of a stroke. This scan revealed that he had advanced lung cancer and a secondary cancer on his brain.

The following month we had an appointment with Respiratory who informed us that although there was no cure, my husband would be referred for chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.

8 days later we attended the hospital again and told the swelling on his brain had increased and his medication was doubled.

My husband was admitted the next day with high blood sugar, and moved overnight to Earsham Ward and it’s here that I would like to draw your attention to his treatment.

My husband's speech had deteriorated at this point and he found it hard to communicate when I wasn’t present. He was also paralysed in his right hand and arm.

When I arrived at visiting time the day after he was admitted, my husband was in the same top he had been wearing on admission, despite the HCA carrying out clothes changing for all around him. His hand and arm were black and blue from innumerable attempts to put his cannula in. He had only had half of his steroid prescription and he was concerned about this. He had been informed by a nurse that the two doses of steroids were too close together. Despite the fact that it had been a doctor and the N & N who had made the prescription and it was very clear on his notes.

I asked the nurse concerned if I could discuss this with them but they were “too busy” and would come back to me. My husband was getting more distraught so I asked to speak to the Ward Manager. I then overheard a conversation between the original nurse and an HCA where they were obviously discussing me and that “she can speak to the ward manager about all of his treatment then”. Eventually the nurse came to see us with his notes, found the prescription and he received his medication. The nurse also informed us that they doubted my husband's outpatients appointment would take place because he was an inpatient. This caused him further unnecessary anxiety as we still thought he had a chance of a longer quality of life.

Also on this ward, my husband was twice fitted with a sheath to minimise his requirement for the bathroom. We had no problem with this as his mobility was limited and it seemed the most practical solution. Twice the sheath was allowed to fill so much that it burst away from his skin and left him lying in his own urine until anybody was able to come to assist him. Five minutes before the shift ended, his sheath was removed and not replaced.

When my husband asked for the commode to try to alleviate his dependency on the nursing staff he was berated by another nurse for not using a bottle as well as the commode. Despite the fact that nobody had told him he had to do that and nobody had provided him with a bottle to do so and he was paralysed down his right hand side.

One evening when I was visiting, my husband had been asking for about twenty minutes for help to get to the bathroom and when I queried this with the nurse I was told it would be “helpful if you could do it yourself” and so I did, willingly. However, the nursing staff had failed to do his pyjama bottoms up after removing the sheath and his pyjama bottoms fell down in front of the other patients. The Sister of the ward told him, in my presence, that he was lucky he wasn’t on a mixed bay because he would have been “in trouble”. When I had assisted him in the bathroom somebody had parked a bed outside of the bathroom completely blocking our path and I had to call for some time before I could get him back to his bed.

I write the above with a very heavy heart, because at one of the worst times of our lives my husband was stripped of his dignity by those people who should have been caring for him and whom he had given years of his life to assist.

My husband was discharged after 3 days having been told that he could only have two radiotherapy treatments and his prognosis was four to six months. This message was delivered, in my opinion, honestly but without very much compassion.

 

Two weeks later, my husband took the decision not to go ahead with the Radiotherapy treatment and I phoned the Specialist Oncology Nurses to discuss it. They re-assured me that he could have the treatment at a later date but the doctors would have a case conference and somebody would contact us with an alternative treatment plan. That call never arrived.

My husband then instructed me that no matter what, he would not go back into hospital because of his previous treatment, this was despite developing cellulitis, he did go for a scan for a DVT but this was a real cause of stress for him.

 

My husband was admitted to the Priscilla Bacon Lodge at the end of January and died on 4th February. He was cared for with love and compassion by the staff at Priscilla Bacon, as was I.

Responses

Response from Christine Little, Patient Experience Lead, Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust

Hello Mrs Aitch

So sorry to read about your experiences, that is not what anyone would wish for their loved one and please accept our condolences.

I am relieved that the care, love and compassion was there for you both earlier in the year at PBL which is what the service aims to deliver. Unfortunately I cannot comment and respond about Oncology and treatment at NNUH, but hope that they are able to respond soon.

Kind regards

Christine Little

Patient Experience Lead

Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust

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