"Lack of respect for patients basic functions"

About: East Surrey Hospital / Accident and emergency

(as a relative),

I would like to complain about a situation that occurred at A&E, East Surrey Hospital in July 2012.

My mother (in her eighties), was taken to A&E at East Surrey Hospital in the middle of the day. Everyone was very efficient and kind during pre-assessment. When we were taken in to the main A&E dept she was put in to a cubicle and given a pain killer.

Having taken a diuretic tablet first thing that morning my mother was by this time in need of going to the toilet, so we asked the nurse who appeared to be responsible for her. The nurse asked if she was able to walk to the toilet. As my mum was suffering from headache, severe giddiness and weakness and usually walks with a stick or a walker, we decided that it would be much safer for her to have a commode.

The nurse went off. About 15 minutes later the nurse had not come back so I found them and asked again for a commode as my mum was getting concerned. The nurse was very cold and did not interact with me.

Meanwhile the doctor came to examine her but was unable to do so because of her need to go to the toilet, so he said he would come back. I again asked the nurse for a commode. Eventually after about half an hour to 3/4 of an hour of first asking, a commode was brought and just left. The nurse did not communicate with us at all.

The doctor asked why I was waiting and I told him that I was unable to get my mum off the trolley and on to the commode myself. I think the doctor went to the reception desk as another nurse came to help me get mum on to the commode. By this time my mother was in a lot of pain from the pressure in her bladder so this nurse tried a bedpan but mum was in so much pain she could not stay on it.

By this time mum had got into quite a state and had been desperate to hold her bladder so that she did not wet herself. So the nurse and I managed to get her on to the commode. However, she was in so much pain from her extended bladder that she was unable to pass water and sat on the commode for 15 to 20 minutes. She passed a very small amount of water but this in no way alleviated the pain.

By now the doctor had come back to try to examine her again and he asked the nurse responsible to catheterise her. He also tried to give her more pain killers, when I told him that she had already been given pain killers he consulted the notes and found that this had not be written up.

We waited, the doctor came back again and asked the nurse a second time. We waited, the doctor came back again and I told him that my mother was in great pain and that we would not have been in this situation if a commode had been brought over an hour ago. As my mother still had not been catheterised and he was unable to examine her, he went off to the reception desk, came back and said there was nothing he could do. He went off.

The next time I saw the nurse responsible for my mum they were with another doctor. I asked how much longer we would need to wait for the catheter. They were very cold and at first did not answer me, and said they did not know and we would have to wait.

By this time I was becoming very frustrated and upset and went to the reception desk to complain. Two very kind nurses from the desk then took charge. They organised the nurse responsible and the two of them to the get mum off the commode and back on to the trolley. The nurse responsible then went away again whilst one of the other nurses catheterised my mother and made me a cup of tea all very quickly kindly and efficiently.

Eventually mum was examined and taken for a CT scan just before 4pm and then admitted to the Acute Medical Unit.

I think the level of basic care for this elderly lady was unacceptable, her wanting to pass water escalated in to a very stressful situation which resulted in her having to be catheterised and the doctor wasting at least a couple of hours waiting to examine her.

I await your investigation and explanation as to what will be put in place to stop this humiliation and lack of respect for patients basic functions happening in the future.

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Response from Fionnula Robinson, Director of Communications, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

I was so disappointed to read this. Clearly this is not what I expect of my nurses and I'm so sorry for what must have been a terribly upsetting time for your mother and you.

I will of course investigate this but would need a bit more information such as the day your mother was admitted.

Please could you contact me on 01737 768511 ext.6842, Mobile: 07767 671043, email: Jo.Thomas@sash.nhs.uk

Thank you.

Jo Thomas, Chief Nurse

Surrey & Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

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