"Thank you for doing the very best you can with resources which are less than they should be"

About: Royal Gwent Hospital / Accident & Emergency Royal Gwent Hospital / General Surgery

(as the patient),

I have so many good things to say about the care I received from so many different teams and people. I hope this reaches them

I have one moderate whinge; and one huge one but the huge one is not the hospital's fault but the government.

I was admitted via A&E and assessed as an appendix operation. Everyone was superbly kind, patient and informative. I commend especially the stocky dark doctor in A&E midnight-ish in early October who explained the likely events to me clearly, and helpfully so I knew what was happening to me.

I thank the specialist staff who administered an X ray and a CT scan; in the latter case with real kindness to a highly nervous and exhausted patient.

I wish to thank the cheerful and considerate support staff such as porters and nurses. These contacts during a frightening and disorienting time were all so helpful in reducing my stress enabling me to be more cooperative.

Huge whinge. I was placed in the "Assessment Ward" - this is not a ward but a waiting room. I sat there for 12 hours in miserable state waiting for a bed. It was hell. My appendix erupted, and perforated my bowel. By not providing funding for beds the government pushes cases like mine into crisis. I was told I could need a colostomy, which would have cost the NHS years and years of support. Stupid short sighted cost cutting.

As it was my operation was much more complex than it should have been, tying up the surgical team longer than necessary. I also needed 6 days on the ward, instead of 24 hours - so then I was bed-blocking other urgent cases. Madness.

The surgical team were fantastic. I was utterly terrified as I'd not had any surgery before. To them this must seem silly as it's routine, but they were completely sympathetic, taking a lot of trouble to calm and reassure me. I commend especially the anaesthetist who got me to talk of my studies on y Mabinogi - clever young man. They also let my husband stay with me till I went under.

I recall the gentleness and patience of the recovery staff repeatedly reassuring me the operation was over. Thank you.

My treatment on Ward C7 West was mostly marvellous. I saw how nurses are impossibly overloaded, yet endlessly kept going, and stayed cheerful with us. We were all pretty helpless and needed a lot of care. How they kept patience with so much demand I do not know but they did. Not angels, but brisk, effective professionals.

I thank two lady nurses on the Fri morning who gave me the most thorough scrub wash of my life. It was deeply refreshing after a horrible two days of pain and sweat.

I thank the water nurses (though please note placing jugs within hands reach is important to save other nurses an extra job of moving it later. )

I thank the catering department which provides surprisingly palatable and healthy food.

I am especially grateful to all staff who managed my ventlon, and many blood tests, as I have extremely difficult veins. I have known medical staff express their frustration about this with distressing effects for me, but this never happened here. Staff were calm and patient even when it took five attempts to access my vein. Additionally not one incident really hurt me, and some were actually painless! Wow!

I was only once made to feel I was a pest for making a request. Over six days and nights of fairly intense needs that is excellent. The one moderately serious whinge I have should be seen in this context as one tiny part of a magnificent service.

One nurse on Sun 6th evening was looking very exhausted and fed up. She told me off sharply for asking for the portable toilet. She said I should walk to the toilet which was far away in the corridor. I was very upset as I had thought I was making good progress. I hadn't yet stood up without people holding me but I took her rebuke seriously. I tried walking round the bed, holding on to it. I was so dizzy and weak I fell over. Luckily I managed to swing round so I fell on the bed. This was so scary it held me back from trying again for two days. In the end I got my husband to help me do it.

My other negative point is that a young man came every day to give out washbowls in the morning. He said he was a personal assistant but it didn't seem to be his job to help me wash. I did my face, neck and top but could not reach anything else. With no washing for four days of other parts I went home with small bedsores on my back. Either this young man needed clearer instructions, or I did.

Over all I am very grateful for the care I received. However frontline nurses are clearly fraying at the seams and it was amazing that only one was irritable with me. Staff shortage is clearly critical and my little fall because of careless words, could so easily have been worse than it was.

Finally I would have much appreciated a wheelchair to get to the exit as it was far too long for me to walk. Again shortage of staff to see to things.

Thank you Gwent Hospital for doing the very best you can with resources which are less than they should be. Your teams are heroic in an everyday, practical way.

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Responses

Response from Julian Hayman, Internal Communications Manager, Communications, Aneurin Bevan Health Board We have made a change

Dear Shiroise,

Thank you for your recent post regarding the care you received at the Royal Gwent Hospital. It was very pleasing to read that on the whole you were grateful for the care you received. Please be assured that your many kind comments have been shared with the staff concerned as it means a great deal to them to receive such positive feedback.

In terms of your experience on the Surgical Assessment Unit, I should advise that we are working hard at improving this area and apologise for your prolonged wait for a bed. In these circumstances we should always strive to make patients comfortable and communicate with them at every opportunity so they are updated whilst waiting for a bed on a ward. I apologise for the delay in finding you a bed and for any poor care or lack of communication whilst on the assessment unit. Unfortunately, at very busy times patients can wait longer that we would wish for a bed but please be assured we do everything possible to minimise such delays.

Although your overall appraisal of your stay on Ward C7 West was positive it was concerning to read the issues highlighted and the distress these caused. These have been discussed with the ward team in order that they can learn from your experience and improve the care provided in future.

I should advise that we do encourage patients to walk to the toilet and bathroom as soon as they are able as this is in their best interest and is an important element of post operative management and enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS). However, patients who require help with toilet needs should be given it and I am sorry for the upset caused when assistance was not provided for you. All staff have been reminded that incidents of this nature are not acceptable.

We also encourage patients to manage or help with their own hygiene but assistance should be provided for patients who are unable to do this for themselves. In your case assistance was not offered as appropriate and this has been discussed with both the Healthcare Support Worker and the individual male nurse. I am sorry for this further shortfall in care and for the fact that you went home with some small bedsores as a consequence.

Once again, thank you for your many positive comments and also for highlighting some issues that require attention so that we can make improvements and provide better care in future.

Best wishes,

Sharon

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