"Concerns about nursing care at Russells Hall"

About: Russells Hall Hospital / General medicine

(as the patient),

I was admitted to the acute stroke ward with a suspected minor stroke during the night in late 2010. Throughout my stay, I was given no reassurance by the medical staff I encountered who seemed so concerned about misdiagnosis that they weren't even prepared to discuss possibilities, so I was left to fear the worst.

The patient opposite me was in a very poor state and was unresponsive when breakfast was brought in. When a member of staff appeared to clear away, she asked what she should do with the gentleman's uneaten breakfast. A therapist attending a patient in the bed next to mine instructed her to remove the uneaten food - the man was therefore denied his meal because no-one would help him to eat it.

Another patient who was unable to walk unaided or to shout for help had been put to bed, but his call button had been placed out of reach. I saw him struggling to get out of bed. I went over to him, and he managed to communicate that he needed the toilet. I went to find some help, only to find seven staff at the nurses' station: it wasn't a shift changeover, they weren't being briefed, each was occupied separately on computers or writing notes, reflecting the priorities in their work.

I was very glad to be discharged the following day, even though it was sudden and without warning - I didn't feel safe in this hospital.

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Response from The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you so much for taking the trouble to post your feedback about our hospital during your visit in 2010. We are really sorry that you had a negative experience on our acute stroke ward and it is of great concern that you did not feel safe in our care.

The Dudley Group is committed to providing the very best possible care for our patients and the safety of our patients is our top priority. We would like to assure you that we take all comments seriously and act upon them as part of our ongoing commitment to improving patient experience.

Thank you for raising the concerns you had two years ago and for giving us the opportunity to explain what patients can expect today when they visit the acute stroke ward.

Communicating effectively is a very important part of high quality patient care and we sincerely apologise if you felt the medical staff were not able to reassure you during your visit. Our consultants on the stroke ward carry out daily reviews of patients in their care. Patients, or their relatives or carers, are welcome to book an appointment with their consultant if they feel they would like more information about their diagnosis and treatment. Our ward doctor is also available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm to speak to our patients on the stroke ward to offer information, advice and reassurance. We also have a healthstyle advisory nurse specialising in stroke who offer patients written and verbal information about what is a stroke, investigations that will take please, treatments and therapy available and any further worries or concerns the patient may have about living with a Stroke after discharge.

Nurses do gather at the nurses’ station frequently throughout the day to review patients in their care and ensure they are getting the best and most appropriate treatment.

We take the nutrition and hydration of our patients very seriously and now have a number of measures to ensure this happens. We implemented a red tray system, which indentifies patients who require help with feeding. Their meals are placed on a red tray to alert nurses to offer assistance; catering staff should not take the food away. Our nurses also complete daily fluid and food charts which are audited each week by our lead nurses. Ward staff review these charts continually throughout the day and alert our dieticians and medical staff if a patient has a poor diet. A patient’s buzzer should never be left out of reach and we can only apologise if you observed this happening.

As part of our ongoing commitment to improve patient care, we have passed your comments onto the lead nurse and asked her ensure her team follows the procedures for the red tray system.

Your comments have also been forwarded to the matron acute stroke ward who would welcome the opportunity to discuss your concerns with you so that we can learn from your experience. If you would like to arrange an appointment, please contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on free phone 0800 073 0510.

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Response from Stroke Association, Stroke Information Service, Stroke Association

Dear lithos53

We saw your post about your experience on the stroke unit at Russells Hall Hospital and it sounds as though you are upset about the level of care you received and witnessed others receiving. This is completely understandable and it sounds like it was very concerning for you. Stroke can be a frightening and life-changing event and in order to feel reassured and confident about your care it is important to have an understanding of what is happening, as well as to witness good care of those around you. I can I hope that I can provide some information about how you might be able to resolve the problem around this care, as well as providing some information about the Stroke Association and the other ways in which we might be able to help you.

It seems as though the hospital are working to try to resolve this issue for you, however, if you feel that you have been let down by the NHS and that you did not receive the appropriate levels of care, you could make a complaint. It is really important to raise your concerns to the NHS so that they can improve their services and resolve problems. It might be helpful to speak to the Patient Advice Liaison Service (PALS) about the incident and how to complain. PALS provide confidential support and help to resolve problems and concerns with the health service.

PALS are part of the NHS, but if you wished to complain with the assistance of an independent body you could contact ICAS, an advocacy service for people who wish to make a complaint about health and social care:


You may also wish to contact Patients Association, which is an organisation dedicated to campaigning about issues with healthcare services. They have a helpline where you can provide your views about a service; they undertake regular surveys of patient opinions about services; and they produce a newsletter called Patient Voice which contains recent news and opinion about the NHS. I have included their contact details below:

Patients Association

Helpline: 0845 608 4455

For further information about making a complaint, you may wish to view the following resource sheet. Please note you can download our full range of leaflets and factsheets free of charge from our website http://www.stroke.org.uk

Complaining about a health services


At the Stroke Association we have support workers across the UK, providing information, advice and support to people affected by stroke. Our services are funded by Primary Care Trusts or social services and we receive referrals from hospitals, social services, friends and family and self-referrals; this helps us to support people affected by stroke from the moment of diagnosis. Please contact our helpline if you think this service may be beneficial for you - the Stroke Helpline is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm on 0303 30 33 100. Sadly, not all areas provide funding for these services so we also campaign to raise awareness about stroke, demonstrating the need for our services, and encourage people to understand more about the long term effects of stroke.

Our current campaigns include the Life after Stroke campaign, which challenges some of the barriers to recovery, such as social care, benefits, NHS care and rehabilitation. We are also involved in campaigns against cuts to benefits and services, and we produce Stroke Care Reports which highlight positive and negative aspects of local stroke services. You may wish to join our campaign - this can be done on our website:


I hope this is helpful. If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything further, please do not hesitate to contact us again. The Stroke Helpline is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm on 0303 30 33 100.

Yours sincerely

Eliza Hakes

Stroke Information Service


Stroke Association staff are not medically trained and the information provided does not replace information given to you by your own healthcare provider.

We would like to hold your details so that we can send you information about the work of Stroke Association. If you would like us to keep in touch please email subscribe@stroke.org.uk with your contact details.

If you would like to make a donation to Stroke Association, you can do so on our website at http://www.stroke.org.uk/donate/make_a_donation.html

All donations are gratefully received. Please do not forget to "Gift Aid" your donation if you are a UK tax payer. Alternatively, if you would like to support us with a regular donation, you can do so here: http://giving.stroke.org.uk

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