"Improve communication please"

About: Southmead Hospital

Most of the problems during my son's stay were caused by poor communication between staff. No one seems to be in charge. The nurses tried to be kind, but they knew nothing about the progress of my son's case, and just said they would ask his 'named nurse', who never seemed to be there. Sometimes hours would pass between asking a simple question (such as 'should I keep taking the medication prescribed by by GP?) and getting an answer, and usually the answer was 'we don't know'. My son was in surgery for several hours, and the the ward staff were unable to find out whether anything had gone wrong. They could not contact the recovery unit because the staff there cannot hear the phone when it rings. We all had many hours of worry, including my son, who said that in recovery he just lay there, with no staff in sight, and no bell within reach to call them. It was not till the following afternoon that doctors visited the ward, and at last we found out that all was well. I don't think these are teething problems. It's a matter of culture and having empathy for patients and their families who are anxious and need reassurance. I felt as if I had put my son at the mercy of people who simply didn't know what they were doing. In four days at the hospital I didn't see a single member of staff wash their hands. There are no hand cleaning facilities for visitors arriving at the main entrance. The food is terrible. It's almost as if they are trying to make people ill - and it is impossible to buy anything healthy in the shop. The hospital is miles from anywhere, so you can't go out to buy things without taking the risk of missing the arrival of someone who might have the faintest idea what is going on. No one ever knew when a ward round was likely to happen. The staff at the information desk are unhelpful,and don't know the simplest things, such as the location of bus stops, which routes go where, where the nearest shops are, etc. An example of the vagueness is that in the next question on this list, I simply can't find a department to tick. I have no idea which department was in charge of my son's care. The fact that they call wards 'gates' tells you everything you need to know. Being in this hospital is like being in the worst airport you have ever passed through. The staff are not bad people - it's just that none of them seems to feel they have any responsibility for anything. There's an overwhelming sense of powerlessness and ignorance, which means that in the end you just don't feel safe.

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Response from Southmead Hospital

Thank you for your comments, firstly may we apologise that you and your son have had such a poor experience when attending our new hospital, clearly this is not what we would want for any patient or relative. In your comments you have raised a number of concerns, and we would like to be able to discuss these with you in more detail. If you feel able, we would appreciate if you would contact our Advice & Complaints Team on 0117 3233710, so that they can talk with you, or if you would prefer you can email them at Complaints@nbt.nhs.uk with your name and telephone number and a member of the team will call you.

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