"The good and bad of inpatient Neuro at UHB"

About: Queen Elizabeth Hospital / Neurosurgery

(as the patient),

I've had a couple of inpatient experiences at UHB in the last couple of months. The first on 409 was a complete debacle. I've already fed this back to PALS and have to hope that that feedback has been passed to the surgical and nursing teams concerned. It would be nice to have that confirmed though.

As for my most recent stay, I guess it's easier to split this into two parts; the good stuff and the bad.

Less than desirable first:

I arrived on 407 recently for an elective embolisation the following day. During the first 24 hrs I met 11 healthcare professionals (nurses and doctors); a total of 3 of them actually introduced themselves to me - the rest told me neither name nor job title. In addition, from memory none of them had a visible badge. They may have been wearing one but it was always turned over so that only the back was visible. This failure to introduce themselves continued throughout my stay. I gave up counting after 24 hours.

The culture seemed to be endemic throughout all levels of staff, I met at least two Senior Nursing staff (sisters) one Registrar and a Consultant who either failed to introduce themselves or I had to ask them who they were. "Hello, I'm one of the doctors" just doesn't cut it. This left me feeling isolated and angry.

I was starved from 2am for surgery on the Friday. The Registrar came to see me at about 9am to inform me that the op had been cancelled because of an emergency (fair enough) and the consultant would come and tell me the plan at lunchtime. I waited until 3pm and was told I could go home on weekend leave, return on Sunday for surgery on Monday (barring emergencies).

The day after surgery I was seen by the interventional radiologist that had performed the procedure who advised that I could go home on Thursday. On Wednesday I was seen by someone who I believe to be the surgical Registrar (although no one actually told me who he was or what he did) who wanted to discharge me that day. I had no-one at home to collect me or stay with me, they agreed that I should stay until Thursday.

A little later in the day the Sister (who never told me her name) told me that I should go home as they 'have lots of patients everywhere' and they needed the bed. I explained again that I had no way of getting back and no one to keep an eye on me when I got there. I also had a number of other questions that needed answering by the interventional radiology consultant. The sister left, never to return.

Later in the day the interventional radiology consultant came to visit, said I should stay until the following day and answered all my other questions.

Discharge was a little chaotic, mainly due to the uncertainty of the junior docs as to what to prescribe for my take home meds. One lot was prescribed and sent to pharmacy. Then an additional drug was prescribed and had to be sent for; this put my discharge back by a few hours, ironic given the fuss the Sister made about the need for the bed.

The good stuff:

Two members of staff stand out, head and shoulders above the rest for their care, compassion and skill. In no particular order:

Dr Senthil - Consultant Interventional Radiologist. Not only did she restore my faith in UHB neuro following my previous admission, she was meticulous and caring in her explanation, spent 8 hours fixing my brain (from 2pm to 10pm) when she should have finished at 5pm. She ensured my very anxious family were kept up to speed with developments whilst I was in surgery, waited until I was awake to speak to me immediately after surgery, patiently answered all my questions in the days afterwards and was, above all most incredibly caring.

Ruby - Healthcare Assistant - 407. Ruby is everything a Nurse should be. She is caring, a patient advocate, diligent, friendly, efficient and above all dedicated to high quality nursing care.

There are others, SN's SK and Jessica on 407, ODP Mike (or maybe Mark - post anaesthetic haze! ) who were very pleasant, caring and efficient.

It is obvious to me that the quality of my clinical care was phenomenal. Ultimately this is what really matters. Where some UHB staff fall down is in the ability to communicate effectively with each other and with their patients.

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Response from University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback on your experience of Neurosurgery Services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham

We welcome all feedback and would like to assure you that all comments are taken seriously and acted upon as part of our ongoing commitment to improving patient experience.

We would like to offer apologies for not reading or responding to this post much earlier. We are aware that you posted it some time ago and can understand how frustrating it must be for it not to have been read sooner. We have put measures in place to reduce the risk of this happening again.

We are very pleased that some aspects of your care and treatment were so positive and wish to thank you for providing the details of those involved. The managers of the department that treated you, and other senior colleagues have been made aware of your comments and will ensure that they are passed on to the relevant staff members. It is a real morale boost for staff to receive feedback like this from patients. It means such a lot to know that the hard work, dedication and commitment of our staff is recognised and valued in this way. It is also very satisfying for staff to hear they have made such a difference to patients and made sure your experience under our care has been positive.

We are very sorry that other aspects of your experience were not so positive. Your comments have been forwarded to the relevant senior managers responsible for Neurosurgery. We are unable to identify you from the message on the website so we would be very grateful if you would contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) to provide your details and discuss this further. This will enable us to fully investigate the concerns you have raised and take the relevant action.

You can contact PALS by phone 0121 371 3280, by email PALS@uhb.nhs.uk, via the hospital website http://www.uhb.nhs.uk/pals-form.htm or in person by dropping in between 10-4pm (Mon-Fri) to the PALS office located to the left of the Information Desk in the main entrance of the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Thank you again for taking the trouble to post your comments on the Patient Opinion website.