About: Southend Hospital

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My son who has autism went into southend hospital because he was underweight (due to his disorder he restricts food and when he gets a cold he stops eating altogether). The dietitian admitted him saying he may need nastogastric feeding. However when I got to the ward the agenda had changed and they said they needed to 'observe' his eating and that a member of staff would bring his food, they told me that I was not allowed to give him any drink or food myself. As his mother I know exactly when he needs to eat and how much because he is non-verbal and as his mum I go on when he last ate and also he gives me cues through his behaviour. Removing my ability to feed and my son during a time when my son needed to get as much calories as possible was bad enough. What happend over the next 2 days was absolutely disgusting behaviour from staff. They told general kitchen staff not to let me have any food or drink from the kitchen. They did not see the urgency when I told them he was hungry, they tood their time, on occasion they took up to 2 hours to bring him something to drink. The had some food specialist come in at one time and shove a piece of cold dry sausage into his mouth without washing her hands. She also ripped him up under his tiny arms off the floor where he was playing with a car to plonk him forcefully onto the bed in front of dry sausage and mash and created a stressful feeling for both myself and my son. On the other extreme he was left for hours without food or drink. Being autistic he was distressed in a strange bed/environment and suffering the torturous hunger and thirst he did he started to self harm. He also started to lash out at other child patients in the play room. I had no choice but to remove my son from this appalling and medicaly dangerous environment. I searched for an hour trying to find someone to discharge him and in the end I had to leave as nobody came. I am absolutely shocked and disgusted that they would treat an underweight autistic child in this manner, compromising his immune system in an infectious environment.

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Response from Southend Hospital

I am sorry to learn of your experiences. Your complaint has also been received by our PALS team who have passed it to Complaints for further action and they will be in touch in due course.

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