"Appalled at care following my mother's stroke"

About: Charing Cross Hospital / Accident and emergency London Ambulance Service NHS Trust West Middlesex University Hospital / Older people's healthcare

(as a relative),

My mother suffered a stroke in April 2013.

The initial response was fantastic, the ambulance was with us in less than 10 minutes and the paramedics confirmed by opinion she was FAST positive (I am a trained nurse). She was taken to the HASU at Charing X and we were taken straight into critical care.

Although I had known she was ambulant 90 minutes previously, as I hadn't actually had contact with her, they refused the thrombolysis treatment. She had a CT scan, which showed nothing, and was then taken to the stroke unit.

She became very drowsy due to the brain oedema and a CT scan done on day 3 showed the lesion by then. Apart from a paralysed arm, all her other limbs are fine and she has cognition. Her care was fantastic.

Things took a turn for the worse when she was admitted to West Middlesex Hospital on day 3, late at night. On day 4 the Occupational Therapist called me and we chatted for nearly half an hour. During this time I informed her that my mother had severe hearing loss and she requested that I bring in her hearing aids. I also informed her that my mother had vascular dementia and gave her the details of who looks after this.

On day 5, I visited my mother in the afternoon. She was still very drowsy and not making eye contact, which is apparently normal for this type of stroke. I waited a long time to speak with the sister and by the time she turned up, I had to leave to get to work. I informed the staff that my mother couldn't hear and that I had left both her hearing aids and her distance vision glasses in her locker.

Sadly due to my husband's ill health, I was unable to visit my mother for about 10 days. When I visited again I was there for nearly 4 hours and during that time it became apparent that the ward staff had no idea that she was deaf, didn't know she had hearing aids with her and didn't know about her dementia.

They blamed Charing X for not providing the information, but when I explained that the OT had phoned on the day after admission and had received this information, they were astonished. They immediately gave her the hearing aids and once inserted she immediately responded to them. I believe that up to this point they thought she was badly brain damaged, even though the position of the lesion would not be expected to cause this.

During my first and subsequent visit, I examined the nursing notes and informed staff that I was concerned about her coughing. She was not on oxygen assistance when transferred and has not been oxygenated since arriving at West Mid. Her sats were being maintained above 96% on room air, which is adequate. I asked if a chest X-Ray had been performed or was planned and received a negative reply. No one seemed to take my concern seriously.

Yesterday morning I received a phone call from the stroke SpR, informing me that my mother has a chest infection [only diagnosed yesterday, some 3 weeks after admission] and that she is very poorly and now on antibiotics.

I am disgusted with the level of care she has received so far. It seems that if I can't be there every day (I work shifts 5 days a week and have an ill husband to look after), then nothing gets done. I have informed the SpR that I am making a formal complaint to the CEO and I fully intend to bring a medical negligence case against all involved in her stroke [she had been taken off anticoagulants and BP medication] from the so-called preventative medication, right through to the post-stroke care.

They are now running around like headless chickens and hopefully she is getting the right treatment, but I shouldn't have to kick up a fuss to get this treatment done properly. If I wasn't a trained nurse and could spot the warning signs, heaven knows what would have happened.

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Response from Charing Cross Hospital

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust appreciates the feedback you have shared with regard to your mother's care following her stroke. Thank you for your appreciative comments about the care she received under our stroke services at Charing Cross. We are sorry to hear about your experience at the West Middx Hospital and trust that they will respond to the concerns that have been raised.

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Response from West Middlesex University Hospital, Twickenham Road, Isleworth Middlesex TW7 6AF

We were very concerned to read about your and your mother’s experiences at our hospital. This is clearly not of the highest standards that we aim for and we would like to apologise for the distress caused. As soon as we received your feedback the relevant teams were alerted and we are currently working with you and your mother to make sure any issues are addressed.

We always encourage patients and their carers to raise any concerns that they might have as soon as possible by asking to speak to one of our matrons, whose role it is to ensure that we are providing the highest standards of care and treatment. Alternatively you can ask to be put in touch with our patient advice and liaison service (PALS).

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