"Don't pretend to offer a service which can't be..."
About: Royal Lancaster Infirmary Royal Lancaster Infirmary Lancaster LA1 4RP
This review purely relates to the stay I had in the Ripley Suite/ward 21 for alleged physio rehab after spinal surgery for cancer complications. It is not a simple case. I was originally admitted via A& E following collapse of a bit of my spine and was seen by excellent doctor immediately. He managed to get me a bed on orthopaedic and they liaised with Preston where I had surgery 2 days later. I was then transferred back to Lancaster orthopaedic ward to recover. My care on this ward was fine in so much as it was a ward for emergency cases and I was recovering. Although they weren't 100% used to dealing with the cancer aspect of my condition, the staff were fully aware of the need to move me in a careful way so my spine would be protected from further damage as much as possible. After a few days, I was offered the chance to go to the Ripley Suite for rehab with extra physio to get me mobile enough to go home. Sounded good. Arrived on the new ward and settled in for the night. Next day came across the breakfast lady who was lovely and a couple of others care assistants who were very nice. From the sign by the ward entrance, I expected to be seen by people who could draw up the rehab plan to meet my needs and get me home asap.Eventually had a visit from physio and they came to see me on average 3 days out of 5 (no weekends) for about 10 mins at a time. This does not match the principles on the sign for the ward. I understand there are all sorts of considerations like funding to take into account, but please don't pretend to offer something you can't deliver. The longer I was in, the less I felt cared for. It frequently took 20 minutes for the call bell to be answered in spite of me being able to hear the nurses and assistants chatting at the station outside my room. Probably my fault but I didn't create a fuss and tended to leave it. There were also some organisational issues with getting me to Preston for radiotherapy some days in spite of my appointment times being listed - the ward clerk did sort these out quickly though. My family were concerned that I was deteriorating by this time and asked to see the consultant in charge of the ward. He agreed I wasn't being offered what had been promoted and that the ward wasn't really suitable for me. Anyway, I managed to be discharged after I could walk a few steps with help. Discharge was basically goodbye with tablets and no instructions. At home I ended up ringing the district nurses for help, especially with a catheter as I had no idea what was happening with that and no spare parts for it. I did ring the ward but was basically told they had no further advice or help as I wasn't their responsibility! 3 months later and I am still recuperating and mostly housebound but have had much more help from the community nursing staff than I ever had on the 'specialist' rehab ward.