"Poor nursing care after colorectal surgery"

About: Royal Bournemouth General Hospital / Colorectal surgery

(as the patient),

I had to have a Low Anterior Resection and ileostomy operation at Royal Bournemouth General Hospital at the end of Feb 2013. The surgeon and the operation were done really well and efficiently and after 3 hours I was put into the Recovery Room to come round from the operation. However, from this point everything went downhill fast.

I can remember coming in and out of consciousness for about 5 hours, because they were unable to control the pain. Apparently my epidural had failed (which I overheard from the nurse allocated to me, so I had no painkilling drugs going into my system. Unfortunately the nurse allocated to me during my recovery had an awful grasp of the English language, so whilst feeling quite fuzzy I had to try and understand what she was asking me, and get her to understand where my pain was and on what scale.

My back was in agony, I kept complaining of the pain, and it didn't help overhearing her say to a colleague that part of the reason for the back pain might be because they still had me on an operating trolley so many hours after the operation!

After about 3 hours (I remember this as I was on the trolley in direct view of a clock) the nurse got someone to come and speak to me about pain relief options. I am feeling really rough now and whoever she got to come and see me is talking to me about putting 2 tubes into the operation site so that pain relief can be administered directly into the wound - in pain or not, I really didn't fancy having the wound tampered with again.

Eventually it was decided that I would have a morphine pump fitted which I could administer myself. Finally after 5 hours and after begging to go to the ward I was released from the recovery room. Nightmare!

When I get down to the Ward things were slightly better, but not for long. I knew I would be waking up with a temporary ileostomy, but was just left there without any of the nurses checking what was going, or instructing me on what to expect.

I've never had an ileostomy, so why wasn't I told that it should be emptied before it gets to half full? Why wasn't I told that it would fill with wind and could explode? (which it did on day 3.) Stoma care on the Ward was pants, there was only one stoma nurse during the six days I was there, and she only worked two of those days. I felt abandoned and uneducated by the nursing staff.

The age range of female patients in the unit I was in was elderly, which was very depressing for me. There were confused patients in single rooms attached who were groaning and shouting things like "help me" all night and all day for 3 of the 6 days I was in there. Another elderly patient who came onto the ward for the last 2 nights I was in there was very dramatic and demanding - on her first night in there she ripped out her drips, catheter and oxygen tubes and was running around the ward shouting and crying for attention.

My experience of the nursing staff on Ward 16 was awful too. There were too many agency nurses, some of whom had worked at RBGH before, and some of whom quite obviously hadn't. The nursing staff was also made up of a massive amount of different nationalities, Chinese, German, Polish, Mexican, Thai, Croatian, Hungarian, Ukrainian to name but a few. However, very few of them spoke good English and you had to ask them several times to explain what they wanted, and even then you sometimes had no real idea of what they were trying to do so most of the patients just let them do whatever it was that they were trying to sort out.

On another occasion 2 Chinese nurses were sorting medication for another patient in my ward. They then walked away from this patient's bed towards mine, and stood about 2 metres from me with her notes, and started talking amongst themselves in Chinese!

I then get told on day 6 at 8:30am in the morning by my surgeon that I can be discharged, yippee, I wanted out of this mad house. My partner comes in late morning upon hearing this news, and by then I've had my blood tests and been given my medication for discharge. We sit there waiting, waiting and waiting.

Then at 2pm we get told the Ward doctor is not happy to discharge me because the nursing staff have not been measuring my ileostomy output - why? I had been handing them the output every time so that it could be put on my notes, but it appears that over the last 2 days, not one of them had bothered to write it down.

By this time I have lost the plot and am advising that if I don't get discharged I am going to discharge myself, which they are not happy with. Fortunately I had kept my own notes of the stoma output, and my husband to the rescue, takes these to the Ward doctor, who is finally happy to discharge me.

Eventually I am released from the hell of Ward 16 at 6pm.

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Response from Sue Mellor, Patient Experience Lead, Royal Bournemouth & Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for telling us about your experience.

We are very sorry to hear that your experience on this occasion was below the standard we endeavour to provide. and we would like the opportunity to investigate the issues you have raised.

We do take all feedback very seriously and use it to educate staff and inform the services that we provide.

Please do contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) team - Jennie, Lorraine, Heather or Chanti on 01202 704886 who will assist you.

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