"Staff generally caring, mixed wards a huge mistake..."

About: Queen Elizabeth I I Hospital (Welwyn Garden City)

What I liked

Staff are generally kind, although it is difficult to find out information about my Mother's treatment and care.

What could be improved

My Mother is an old lady and finds it distressing that she is in a mixed ward - in fact the only lady in her bay. Although curtains are put up. she still feels uncomfortable knowing that there are male patients so close by. Would it be possible to have at least single sex bays?

The patient in the bed next to my Mother was obviously about to pass away, there were 10 people around the bed, they were constantly coming and going, this unsettled my Mother and meant that her visitor barely had room to stand. I appreciate that it was a difficult time for the family but as my Mother had just come down from intensive care and we had to adhere to the two visitors per bed.

Anything else?

Please if you have to have mixed wards can you have single sex bays.

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from Queen Elizabeth I I Hospital

It is not just Trust policy, but also NHS-wide, that patients should be cared for in single sex bays at a minimum. There are exceptions to this guidance, however, where for obvious reasons this is not practical nor in a patient's clinical interests - for example in A&E, intensive care and high dependency units such as the one your mother is on currently at the QEII (from your description, we have surmised that this is the respiratory high dependency unit at the hospital). Indeed a notice to this effect is located by the entrance to the unit.

In such circumstances it would be clinically unsafe for a small number of patients to be cared for in separate bays, which of course is the standard practice on our main hospital wards to which we hope your mother will be well enough to be transferred to very shortly. Whilst in a high dependency unit, our staff do everything they can to ensure that patients' dignity is respected at all times.

We were surprised to read about the patient who was dying, as where it is clear that someone is going to pass away our staff try very hard to ensure that they are moved in to a side room to give them and their family time together in a way that respects their privacy. We've spoken to the team and in the instance described, sadly a side room either did not appear to be available or may not have been appropriate given the person's treatment and condition. Nonetheless the nursing team on the unit are very sorry for any distress caused to you and, most importantly, your mother.

We don't know if you have done this already, but if you have concerns about the care your mother is receiving please do ask to speak with the ward sister. If you are not satisfied are feel the matter needs escalating, we have matrons whose job it is to look in such concerns. You can access the latter service either via the hospital's reception desk or through the PALS team who are there to help patients and their relatives in such matters.

If you would like us to get a matron to contact you directly, please just e-mail us at generalenquiries.enh-tr@nhs.net with your name and a number on which to get hold of you.

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