"Discharge ward at QEQM"

About: Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital / General medicine

(as a relative),

Today at approximately 12. 00 midday, I went to the QEQM to collect my Uncle who was being discharged from hospital after a short stay. I was directed to St Augustine's Ward, to a bay which had no beds, one comfortable armchair, one plastic side chair, and one reasonably comfortable side chair. I found that my Uncle had been left here, in a wheelchair, while his medication was sorted out. Also in the bay at that time were two other elderly patients.

My uncle and I were there for over two hours while his medication was sorted. During that time some other patients were left, in their wheelchairs, to await relatives or patient transport. One lady was so uncomfortable in her wheelchair, I assisted her to move into the only comfortable armchair. The surroundings were appalling - no decent furniture, no television or radio, no access to any reading matter or any kind of stimulation, and an apparent complete lack of attention to the people who had been left there.

When we asked a nurse what was happening, we were told that the wait was "due to the pharmacy", and it was very obvious from the tone of voice used that the nurse was far too used to having to apologise.

During the two hours I was there, I didn't see anyone offered any refreshment, patients were brought in, and the staff got out as soon as they could - it is obvious that the nursing staff are so overstretched that they are unable to spend the time with patients that is necessary.

When my uncle was finally cleared to leave, I was left to push him in a wheelchair to the hospital exit. As you are no doubt aware, there is a very steep slope between St Augustine Ward and the rest of the hospital, and the wheelchair in which he had been left was almost impossible to manoeuvre. I wasn't offered any help - because nobody had any time to help me.

I don't blame the staff on the ground - they are clearly doing their best within the limitations that they suffer and I really sympathise with them. I blame the organisation and the management of the hospital. What would it take to put a few comfortable chairs in that ward? What would it take to put a radio in there? Possibly a few magazines?

And, what would it take for the management of the hospital to look at this kind of organisation - possibly even examine the critical paths associated with the discharge of patients - and start thinking about resourcing areas of high traffic, such as the pharmacy?

I know that resources in the NHS are particularly tight, and I know that this is a busy time of year, so I would suggest that this behoves the management of the hospital to make the best use of the resources that you have. Because, at the moment, you're not doing it very well.

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Responses

Response from Julie Pearce, Chief Nurse + Director of Quality + Operations, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust We are preparing to make a change

Thank you for taking the time to feedback to us, I know that we have already had some email conversation yesterday evening. Your experience falls short of what we expect to be able to provide under normal circumstances and is not acceptable.

I was able to help you to understand the intense pressure our staff are currently under and I was able to explain that we had to use this space as an over-spill to our normal discharge lounge.

Since you have raised your concerns, we have managed to ensure that the area is properly equipped and patients have access to refreshments and comfortable chairs. We have also made sure that pharmacy staff are aware to prioritise this area for medications to be dispensed quickly for taking home.

Thank you again for raising your concerns, your feedback has enabled us to make some improvement in a very challenging situation.

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