"Obtaining information despite no visiting because of winter bug"

About: East Surrey Hospital / Older people's healthcare

(as a relative),

My grandmother was taken to hospital with shortness of breath last night. 24 hours later the only information we have received is she is "OK" - we don't even know what is wrong with her. She is 84 bed bound from a stroke and often confused.

I fully appreciated the confidentiality aspect however a plan must have been made to allow people to find out how their relatives are when we are not allowed to visit.

I called a nurse on the ward who just kept telling me she couldn't give any information, I explained I appreciate this but could someone call her next of kin (my grandfather) and tell him what is happening. I became very frustrated with the nurse and felt I was not being taken seriously.

My grandfather has recently been diagnosed with cancer and is also going into hospital in a few days. I realise it may be too much to ask what is going on so myself and family can make arrangements for their continued care.

I expected that the hospital management would have a system in place to ensure relatives are not left in the dark when the decision was made to close the hospital to visitors.

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Response from Eloise Clarke, Communications Manager, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Dear 'frustrated relative'

I can understand your frustration. As I'm sure you appreciate, we cannot give out patient information over the telephone however most of the wards have been provided with cordless telephones so that realtives can talk to patients. Another alternative is that the ward manager gets consent from the patient and checks the number by ringing the family member on the number provided. We can also arrange a pre booked visit when the ward sister/medical team would be free to discuss the patient's care plan etc. and as a one off again this could be discussed with the ward manager/matron for the ward. I am sorry you were not offered these options. I have spoken to the Chief Nurse and she is going to remind ward staff that there are ways for relatives to receive updates on patients that dont compromise patient confidentiality. I apologise for your experience and wish your grandmother well soon.

Many thanks for bringing your experience to our attention.

Eloise Clarke

Communications Manager

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