"Most of the staff were trying their best, however..."

About: Ashford Hospital

What I liked

I had say surgery, but needed to be kept in. Once I was moved up onto the ward the staff were cheerful and friendly. The physio's were especially patient with myself when I was struggling to get myself up and moving around. They even exceeded my expectations by calling the family whom I was to stay with and explain the difficulties which I was experiencing and advise them on how they could modify their home in preparation of my stay.

What could be improved

I was given no information leaflets about my specific surgery either prior or after the surgery.

I was very apprehensive about my surgery and was unable to have anyone to sit with me either before, or after the surgery. When my consultant came round after the surgery he was unable to speak to myself because I was struggling to come round and I had no one with me who he could speak to (despite my partner waiting in the hospital grounds no one called him)

When I was struggling to come round a nurse sat me upright, removed oxygen and trying to force me to have water. At this point in time I could barely hold my head up and it was an uncomfortable position to be left in. Also I knew that I was in day surgery hence felt that I was being rushed to get up and out.

The staff should have come over and explained to me that I was being kept in and repeated themselves, since I was worried I had to go

I overheard staff chatting about when they were going home, which added to my agitation that I needed to get up and go home

In the ward I found that the staff at times appeared very over stretched and I did not know whom to ask for simple things such as additional tape to hold the tube in my hand down (after 3 nights the strapping had started to peel off). I did ask a member of staff, but my request was never dealt with.

There was a patient on the ward who on her first night needed to be constantly watched, which obviously affected the care that could be provided to others.

I had to be taken to another hospital for a chest scan. I was taken by ambulance on a stretcher, but arrived a few hours before I was expected. I was left on a ward for the afternoon because there was no suitable transport back. When transport did arrive I was taken on a wheelchair in a people carrier and my ankle which should have been elevated could not due to a lack of space. If I had not gone, the likihood would have been I would not have been transported that evening

Anything else?

My biggest disappoint has been the post operative care. I had cartilage removed from my ankle and then micro fractures drilled into the bones within my ankle joint. It is likely that I will be unable to weight bear for 8 weeks and then will only be able to partially weight bear after. To begin with I do not think that it is fair on the patient to undergo this significant amount of surgery upon the ankle and then anticipate them to be able to up and using crutches within a few hours of surgery. Prior to the surgery I was becoming very anxious about my post operative care. My own circumstances are that I live by myself and have no support network nearby and that the surgery would have to be cancelled because I had no one who could help me. Thankfully a family who I know in Southampton stepped in and I am able to stay with them whilst I am non-weight bearing (travelling to London for consultations and physio about 120 mile round trip). However I am still very worried about taking the step of living by myself once again and returning to work, since I am likely to be only be partially weight bearing and still need help. I have aired my concerns during my post-operative assessment, but the nurse was unable to assist. I could not even find a local charity who could lend me a wheel chair. However if I had had a hip replacement (as most of the patients on the ward which I stayed on had had) I would have had home visits/assessments and home equipment. I am not sure why I do not qualify for post operative help. I am significantly less mobile than someone who has had a hip replacement. However I cannot help but believe that my age of 29 has also a factor to play, and that services anticipate that someone so young will automatically have a support network. I wish to return to an independent life and work as soon as possible, but with a lack of assistance this simply will not be possible

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Response from Ashford Hospital

Whilst it is reassuring to hear that you found our ward staff caring and helpful, we are sorry that there were other aspects of your care that you were not as happy with. We would like to try and respond to some of the points you have raised.

We do have a range of information leaflets available about the most common surgical procedures but are unable to provide written information on every type of operation. However, we encourage patients to ask any questions at their pre-operative assessment or at point during their stay in hospital – our staff are here to help and we want to make sure our patients feel well informed.

We do appreciate that some patients feel very anxious about coming in for an operation and like to have a relative or friend accompany them. However, we have to balance the needs of all our patients and our policy (which encourages relatives to drop patients off and pick them up rather than stay in the unit) is there to protect the privacy and dignity of other patients and reduce the risk of infection. If someone has particular concerns about this we would encourage them to speak to a member of staff, as we will always take individual patient needs and requests for relatives to be present into account.

We are sorry that you felt rushed and agitated after your operation. Often the after effects of an anaesthetic can make patients feel quite disorientated but our staff should have made sure you understood you were being moved to a ward.

With reference to your comments about the ward, there are occasions when a patient’s condition will unexpectedly deteriorate and they require one-to-one care until they are stable. When this happens we try to get staff cover from elsewhere, but this may take time and patients may have to wait a little longer than usual for assistance. Post-operatively, our team of physiotherapists and occupational therapists work hard to get patients ready to go home and thank you for recognising their patience and efforts. As far as possible, we try to make sure that patients are able to manage when they return home and the appropriate community services are in place, so we are disappointed to hear that you did not feel well enough supported.

Thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback and we will take it all on board. It would be very helpful to discuss the specific details of your experience and we invite you to contact Matron Jane Ryman on 01784 884188.

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