"Loud, aggressive visitors and poor handling"

About: Derriford Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as the patient),

I was on Stannon Ward in Feb this year where 2 adult visitors in their forties, and 2 children at next patient's bed, behaved as if they were in a nightclub. They were very noisy and the adults behaved as if they may have been drinking. Ear plugs did not dim the noise as I lay, after 3rd hip revision, flat on my back with my fists clenched in pain. Orimorph had not then kicked in.

On asking visitors to tone it down, one of the adults almost leaned over my bed rail insisting they were not harassing me - which in itself felt like harassment. It felt threatening; I was reduced to putting my hands up to protect myself and they laughed.

The nurse took my bp, said it was at danger level and agreed it was due to visitors behaviour.

I am shocked that the Ward sister seemed to think their behaviour acceptable because patient had earlier had a bad turn. I asked for a taxi home if I could not be moved and was moved to quieter, more civilized bay. However, hours later, these visitors were still there. One of the adult visitors noticed me tottering to the loo and I heard them make inappropriate comments about me to trainee nurse. In my opinion they seemed to be looking for an argument but I ignored them.

The following day I thought the patient caught my eye and tried to stare me out. Sounds amusing but it felt horrible. Again it felt liked the patient was trying to pick a fight and so I had to turn my head away.

After 62 years living with a congenital hip problem and having had 16 operations, including 10 orthopaedic operations, I have never experienced such appalling and frightening visitor behaviour. I received four written apologies in reply to my complaint but wanted an assurance that this will never be allowed to happen to any patient ever again.

My surgeon is a Wing Commander. He has done 2 hip revisions for me which have been flawless. I have been through more orthopaedic surgeons, including ops by 2 orthopaedic professors, than I can remember. My surgeon is, in my experience, world class and I will not be going anywhere else for my ortho ops. I feel blessed to have found such a talented surgeon and his team.

It was lovely to see the same nurses in Feb that I saw on Stannon 7 years previously. Knocked out by their kindness but never want to go through the yelling, threatening visitor experience again.

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Response from Genny Turner, Senior Quality Facilitator, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Dear Sapafol,

I am truly sorry to hear of the distress you experienced on the ward during your latest admission and assure you that we are deeply concerned when this sort of incident occurs and will always try to minimise the effects a crowded ward has on patients.

As a public hospital we are open to people from all walks of life and on wards the mix of patients will have different ways of behaving and talking to that which we would not normally be exposed to in our normal daily lives. This can be personally uncomfortable and the experience can on occasion be personally challenging. Staff are always on hand to monitor the situation and where appropriate patients can be moved to a calmer area when space and time permit, although this may not be an immediate move.

Please be advised I have passed your comments on to the Stannon Ward Manager and Matron.

I wish you well with any future surgeries and hope your next experience here is a more pleasant one.

Best wishes


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