"Total lack of respect & dignity during very stress..."

About: Watford General Hospital

What I liked

Resus were fantastic all of the medical staff were professional, caring, kind and understanding.

One of the nurses in AAU and a couple of male nurses in CCU were also brilliant and should be treasured by the NHS.

My mother was moved very quickly from AAU to CCU.

Things went down as soon we left resus:

The staff in AAU are extremely over worked and communication between Dr's seemed non-existent. In resus my mother was told that her blood tests, ECG and BP showed she had had a small heart attack but in AAU a Dr said he thought her pain was gastric and the blood tests could mean she had some minor kidney damage but again in resus we were told that they had ruled out kidney damage! Later a cardiology consultant came down to see my mother and backed up what the Dr in resus told us saying that she had more than likely suffered a heart attack and would need an urgent Angioplasty the following morning so they could confirm the diagnosis and insert a stent if.. Considering this was not something minor surely communication should have been precise and clear, the Dr in AAU gave us false hope that it was nothing to do with her heart after all.

What could be improved

Unfortunately things kept on going downhill the moment she was taken up to CCU. When she arrived she was dumped on an all - bar 1 - male bay and was surrounded by male patients as the only other female was on the other side of the bay at the other end. My mum was understandably upset by this and said she would rather go home than stay. The day sister asked a Dr to come up and see her but all he did was explain that more men than women have heart problems so basically she would have to put up with it, he was just going to let her leave, the night sister overheard this discussion and looked at my mother's ECG and told her that she couldn't let her leave as there was obviously something serious going on she said she would even put her in her own room if she had too. Thankfully the night sister was able to swap my mum round with a male patient on a proportionately female bay, she also moved the other lady who was on the same bay as my mum separating both bays into same sex bays. I can not believe that no one took my mothers concerns seriously over this! Its a cardiac ward and my mum was there after suffering a heart attack, they must have realised how much stress this was causing her! The following morning the day sister apparently created merry hell about the beds being moved, from then on she treated my mum with utter disgust.

At 5am the following morning my mum was woken up as her Angioplasty was scheduled for 8:30am and bloods were taken. But when the CCL team came down to get her they realised someone had forgotten to send them to the path lab meaning my mum had to wait another 4 hours. No one at any point apologised for this. How can you forget to send bloods, especially when the procedure the person's having is classed as urgent?

When my mum arrived back from having her Angioplasty she was dumped back on her bed with all the covers scrunched up underneath her she had to ask one of the nurses to help move them, the nurse seemed incredibly annoyed by this and...

Anything else?

was very rough as she started tugging at the covers causing the wound from the Angioplasty to bleed also the curtains were partially open and parts of my mum were exposed for all to see! The nurses only response to this was "I didn't realise" no apology again. Later my mum was experience some chest pain so the day sister came into do an ECG but rather than asking or even just being gentle she started roughly tugging at my mothers hospital gown just pulling it up my mum had to tell her to hang on a minute, she was extremely upset and distressed at the total lack of dignity. Also during the day one of the patients had a radio by her bed and one of the nurses told her to turn the music up completely ignoring the fact that there were two very poorly ladies trying to sleep just a couple of beds away!

I refused to leave my mum until the night shift were back on due to the way the day sister was treating my mum, as someone who is used to hospitals this is completely unlike me.

I wish I had stayed later, that night not long after my mum had laid down the night sister came up behind her and without asking pulled down the back of my mothers bottoms again understandably my mum was quite upset by this invasion of privacy and total lack of dignity, apparently this is now hospital procedure in check for worms but no one has the right to do this without asking if she had asked first there wouldn't have been a problem.

I also have to mention the food which was pretty abysmal although we did have a good laugh about it with a couple of the other patients but really it was just seriously strange.

Dignity and care seem to have gone out the window in CCU.

I would also like to give a special mention to one of the male nurses on CCU, he was amazing the poor guy didn't stop moving - seemed to be the only 1 doing any real work - he cared for my mum with dignity and respect and was just genuinely nice the NHS should treasure people like him as they really are one in a million!

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from Watford General Hospital

Thank you for taking the trouble to comment through our NHS Choices page. You’re clearly unhappy about your mother’s experience within Watford General’s Acute Admissions Unit and Cardiac Care Unit and we apologise for any distress that this has caused you both.

Due to patient confidentiality we are unable to discuss individual cases. However, the Trust is fully committed to ensuring that all of our patients have the right to be treated with respect, privacy and dignity and can confirm that mixed sex accommodation has now virtually been eliminated in all areas of our hospitals. There are exceptional circumstances when a “right-sex” bed is not immediately available, and every effort is made to ensure the patient’s privacy and dignity is maintained until an appropriate bed is available. We sincerely apologise if you feel that this did not happen in this case.

In order to resolve your concerns, our senior clinical colleagues would like to investigate this issue thoroughly. Could you please contact us directly through the Trust’s Complaints Team at wherts-tr.complaintsteam@nhs.net and we would be happy to provide a detailed response.

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