Monday, 4 May 2009

Lincoln County Hospital

I got a call from my Dad yesterday to say he'd been having chest pains, had rung the Out of Hours service who had in turn rung an ambulance for him.
Unsure of what was going to happen and assured he didn't want me to meet him at the hospital, I waited a while and rang the hospital.
They'd decided to keep him overnight and do some tests, getting ill on a weekend is one thing, but getting ill on a Bank Holiday weekend is a different adventure. Doctors? Few and far between.

Everything slows to a halt.
Dad informed me today that the pharmacy was closed. In a hospital. Where they never need any kind of pharmaceuticals. I'm lost for words.
Anyway, I popped in to see Dad, find out what had been said and just keep him company for a little while.

We sat and chatted and after a little a strange noise started from behind the curtains of the patient across the ward.
It was like two glasses touching and the table on which they were sitting was being repeatedly shaken. After a few minutes I started to become concerned, the noise wasn't abating and there were no nurses heading in his direction.
I squinted across the ward, trying to see through the small gap in the curtain, becoming concerned that whoever was in there was convulsing or something.
Eventually I made out that they were sitting upright, but still the shaking noise continued.
Several minutes later a voice came from behind the curtain "Nurse!"
It was clear something was wrong.
His bed was maybe 12 feet from the nurses station. They were all standing and talking, they had to have heard him, but no-one responded.
Half a minute later he shouted again.

Still no-one responded.
At this point I'm wondering if I should interfere, does this make me a nosy old bat?
He shouted again for a nurse.
He was ignored again.
Finally, after another minute he shouted for the fourth time for help.

This time he got a response. A barely concealed angry response of "You'll have to bear with us for a minute!"
At this point it's probably a good ten minutes since the noise of shaking started.
No-one has been anywhere near him.
Minutes pass. At what point, do you interfere?
He shouts again and someone new has entered the ward, she pulls back the curtain in response to his shout.
The gentleman is leaning against the table, his whole body shaking violently as if frozen to the bone.
A shout goes out for help, another shout goes out for an ECG, they ask him if he's had a heart attack before. Maybe he's having a heart attack. The only word he can get out is "cold".
So there he has been, shouting for help, for at least ten minutes, and now they're worried he's having a heart attack.

When they're helping him, finally, it's not an appropriate time to go and smash their heads together, but damn they need it.
This was the Emergency Assessment Unit, which means they have been admitted, as emergencies to be assessed as to what the cause of their complaint is. As such, when you don't know what's wrong, is it appropriate to ignore not one, or two, but four pleas for help?

After the abysmal care I witnessed in the weeks I spent in hospital, working my way round, seemingly, most of the wards there, I don't know how I manage to remain surprised. But I am. Sometimes I just don't understand the choice of career.
I can honestly say, that in all the time, in all the wards, I can count on one hand the number of good nurses I came across. And I don't even need to use all the fingers on that hand.

I spent time on a ward where the nurses kept patients waiting up to 80 minutes for morphine. Morphine, not paracetamol. Morphine. People dealing with serious pain, barely able to move or speak and denied pain relief because nurses had a bed to make.

I'm grateful that the NHS exists, I truly am, but the standard of care saddens me more often than I'd like.

Hopefully I'll get to take Dad home tomorrow, once the Bank Holiday is over and the world returns to normal, he'll be able to get some answers and get out of there and finally make a full recovery.
I just hope his biggest concern tonight is whether there's a snorer on his ward or not.


Sleepydumpling said...

Is there someone you can write to about this? Department of health or Minister for health or something? Cos that's just WRONG.

Flibbertigibbet said...

I know. I swore when I came out of hospital that I'd write and complain.
Somehow you become so pleased to be well and away from it that you want to move on.
I'm a little ashamed I didn't write a full complaint about the things I saw.
Maybe it's time for me to make that write and take issue with them...