"Practical assessment of private against public..."

About: Leighton Hospital

What I liked

Self-evidently, I had access to all that medicine could buy. There seemed to be no proscription of drugs or services and the treatment was concerned with definite and positive sentiments.

What could be improved

When vulnerable people are placed under the auspices of others as in the institutional environment much of what happens relies on trust trust. While Leighton could be said to be completely trustworthy as to the availability of a capital lead service which stints little on science and invention it fails badly in the area of its attention to the divergent personal requirements of those that attend seeking the cure. The search for the cure actually becomes an excuse for inattentiveness elsewhere. A medical professional will not necessarily have the empathy or consciousness of the individual offered into their care and in Leighton this is self-evident. More is done to accommodate the elderly and the eccentric that formerly but it is a mechanical process. In a society that desires to compare the NHS with private medicine little is said of the difference in personal palliative care and the general amenity. My experience was of second class bathroom facilities, a day room that lacked comfort and that doubled as a gathering place for mourners (thus often making it un-accessible). The lack of tenderness was stunning. A man died on my ward and no outward show of religious observance was made; within minutes of the bed being cleared of the cadaver someone else occupied the space, surely that is not how humans work? A dead man on public display uncovered. What I found particularly irritating was being shunted into a Discharge Lounge that had the look and feel of a day room at some home for pensioners. We were expected to sit in these confines and be regaled by day time television. While the comatose and mentally challenged may find such an environment acceptable its rigidity and lack of personal space acted as a perfect example of the difference in expectation between private medicine where you can weigh the outcome of the influence of your money and the NHS where, ultimately, you are casually made aware that it is a free service and that your gratitude is in your acquiescence.

Anything else?

That feeling of a 'grubby environment, in which a cleaner can do their job without moving furniture. For a person festooned in tubes and doddery with a temporary incapacity it is difficult to keep pressing a button so that a shower will continue to deliver. Staff no longer detail the workings of the services in the bed area and many people struggled on little more than a night light to read by not knowing. On the subject of personal experience, considering that patients have little or nothing with which to while away their time between treatments the fact that amenity is at such a poor level is not the most encouraging factor or impetus to well-being. In this way the food was execrable. In an age when the wastage of food is a prominent social issue in this hospital there was evidence of an enormous wastage both due to inappropriateness of the food offerings and the sheer in edibility of the offerings. I found the food generally awful. All the ingredients were there but tastes were bland, textures only apparent by discovery, characterisations of distinctive recipes completely lacking. Morning toast was an introduction to plasterboard. To suggest that people do not have sophisticated tastes may be an excuse, people not wanting their food 'played around with', but the offerings here were so removed from their billing, so obviously un-sampled by a technical palate, as to defy traditionalist and food adventurer alike. In all a terrible waste of resources and a blot on the patient day when even the consumption of nutrition turns into an awful experience adding less illumination to the day rather than more. Another worrying thing I witnessed was the airing of that sentiment by some staff in conversation with other staff that no more should be attempted than was absolutely necessary. The reliance on agency staff necessarily of unknown heritage did not promote trust especially as many were challenged by language or were denied any intuitive response, passing strangers.

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from Leighton Hospital

We are very sorry that you were dissatisfied with your stay in hospital. We have just received your letter and will now respond directly to you.

Thank you so much for contacting us directly as we find it can often be so helpful to all concerned if we can speak or meet to address any issues that have caused concern.

Jayne Hartley, Deputy Director of Nursing and Quality

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful