"My son's extra needs were not considered when sharing information with him "

About: Chorley & South Ribble Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as a carer),

My son recently had a hip replacement in Chorley General Hospital. I cannot praise the surgical team and the Consultant enough and it appears so far to have been a success and his recovery has been good. Clearly aftercare on the ward is also a part of this, however given he has a learning disability with extra needs these needs were never considered in regards to information sharing on medication, symptoms including dizziness, the need for a blood transfusion or physiotherapist needs. The head physio was good when we asked for info prior to discharge as were the OT's who had a good presence on the ward but on many occasions appeared slightly disorganised giving the same written information several times.

However much as it hurts me to have to report this as I think the NHS is a wonderful service our experience of the qualified nursing staff was a very negative one. So much so that I may need an op soon which would potentially put me on the ward and I am considering alternatives.

We went to see my son obviously for a brief visit on the day of his op. As he was late on the list we arrived around evening visiting time. Whilst standing at the nursing station to enquire whether he was back there was a sister standing at the desk leaning over a computer, not looking up and a man was politely waiting to speak with her with what appeared to be his daughter with him around the age of 7 or 8. Without eye contact this is what she said to him verbatim "is this important I am very busy" he asked the whereabouts of the patient he was visiting and with a wave of the arm and no eye contact he was directed there. She walked off without speaking to us which I can accept if she was busy. I did not want to speak with her as I felt I may have felt the need to comment on her rudeness. Is it not the case that whilst staff may be busy and overstretched surely everything is important to family. I was so shocked and have told many people since about this who were equally surprised. We enquired with another member of staff and was told our son would probably be in theatre. We were directed to a waiting room where we waited nervously obviously given he was having a big op. We heard him come back from theatre and my husband who is his carer had a quick word with him when he was being handed back to the wards so we knew he was ok. We waited so they could attend to him and staff said they would let is know when we could go to his bedside. No one came to us. After 40mins we decided to go and look for him. We found him in the last bay on his own with pre-discharge patients. He was fortunately being well looked after by a young NA who was so good you would have thought she was a qualified nurse.

From thereon throughout the stay we never had the opportunity or were approached by qualified staff other than one doctor who examined him one night when he had a raised temperature. We found medication leaflets around his bed one night he was laid on one. He did not understand what medication he was on and there was a lot of confusion around his medication which I won't even go into. When I reported to a member of staff his breathlessness as noted when we helped him to the toilet to get him ready for bed etc, we were told it was the effort of walking which I disagreed with and later we learned he needed a blood transfusion.

One evening we were told he would be moving bays and we asked which bay he would be moving to we were told "well you will be walking past the other bed anyway so you will see if he has moved" In the event we went to his bed on the next visit the curtains were round and my husband intruded on what was our sons bed on a different patient being examined.

This lack of support and care for families was evidenced by ourselves towards

other people. A man with dementia was hanging out of his bed with no sides up until visitors arrived. A member of staff who was talking to these visitors later didn't just sit on the mobile steps which were on the ward for the physios I assume, but she laid across them with her clip board on the top step. I work 12 hour shifts for the NHS often without breaks but as tired as I may feel I would never present myself in such a manner.

On another occasion a lady came to see her newly admitted son who was having an op, He wasn't in his bed area. She asked us if we had seen him but we had just arrived. Our son had seen him but didn't know where he was. She asked staff and no-one knew where he was. Someone said he 'may' have gone for a cigarette (don't patients sign out for this as I heard the sister I previously discussed insisting someone did later). She searched the perimeter of the hospital for an hour. She came back very hot and distressed saying she couldn't find him, that he was epileptic and may have had a fit somewhere on the premises. Myself and a friend who was visiting (who herself is a nurse) assisted her in looking at the theatre board where the red/green discs indicate who is in theatre but staff sat in that room also didn't know where he was. She was extremely distraught and they still couldn't confirm whether he was there but said they assumed he was.

My son has been discharged for six weeks now and fortunately he was only in for five days. It has taken me sometime to decide I would follow this up as being a supporter and employee of the NHS I do not like to knock it but I know the importance of standards and professionalism required and feel I cannot discuss it with people and not feedback.

Kind regards

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Response from Rhona Hartley, Head of Patient Experience and Customer Care, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for your feedback; we're so sorry to hear of your experience. Your feedback has been shared with the Head of Nursing for the Surgical Division and we would welcome the opportunity to discuss the issues raised with you further if you would be willing to speak to us. If so, can I ask you to please contact the PALS department on 01772 522972 or the Customer Care department on 01772 522793.

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Update posted by Missiebosch (a carer)

Thank you for your response. I don't mind discussing anything that may help bring about change. However I am not a complainer and would not like to cause upset by formally complaining.

I appreciate how hard people work and the stresses of the job but feel staff should try to be more tolerant and self aware in their practice. In discussing my experiences I have heard so many similar stories.

I know people seem to have high expectations of a struggling pressurised service but it isn't just about understaffing. Care can be delivered politely and with respect even when under pressure. For years nurses have been described as 'angels' which is an impossible title to live up to.

I prefer to call them professionals and in spite of the difficulties and demands they face running wards etc. some need to consider their levels of thoughtfulness and compassion to maintain the levels of support and care expected from a well paid professional role.