"Moving Beds at Night."

About: Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital / Gynaecology

(as the patient),

I was admitted recently to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for a total laparoscopic hysterectomy. I was not taken for surgery until a bed was confirmed for me as they were on "black alert" which is worse than red alert! I cannot fault the care I received, the treatment and staff were absolutely fantastic and I can honestly say that the whole experience from start to finish outweighed my expectations.

The aftercare was brilliant. The consultant, registrar, other doctors, and the anaesthetist, all visited on more than one occasion. The nurses popped in and out regularly for both observations, to offer pain relief, to check I'd been to the loo or offer help with a wash. It was great to be asked what id like to eat at every meal rather than to be given the previous encumbants choices.

The operation was slightly more complex than anticipated so keyhole surgery was abandoned and I ended up with a large incision to my abdomen, inspite of this I made good progress so much so that a discharge 2 days later was discussed.

My bed was close to the nurses station and I could hear the poor nursing staff constantly on the phone to other wards requesting that patients from other wards (eye problems, pregnant ladies etc) be taken back to make room for gynaecology patients. Surely this is not good use of their time, they should be looking after patents not juggling beds?

At 11pm the day after admission, I was woken by a very apologetic nurse who explained they needed the bed and I was going to be moved from Cley Ward to a day ward where there were free beds. She proceeded to pile all my bags and belongings onto my bed (whilst I was still in it) and 15 minutes later I was being wheeled to a day unit at the other end of the hospital. On arrival at the Jack Pryor Renal Unit, I was warmly welcomed by a pleasant nurse who had no idea I was coming, so hadn't read my notes and had no concept of the care I would require. Four other ladies were brought to the ward, I understand from the porter that during the previous night 16 patients had ended up being wheeled to the ward in the depths of the night. I find this totally unacceptable as patients who have recently undergone surgery need sleep in order to make a swift recovery.

The renal unit was very bright and noisy. I was offered tea and biscuits on arrival which was very welcome after my rude awakening. The machines could not be switched off and were constantly clicking an whirring. The HCA explained that we would be woken at 5: 30am, the dialysis machines start a self clean shortly after that and that we would need to vacate the beds by 6: 30 as the renal patients start to arrive shortly after that.

I managed to grab a couple of hours sleep before being told at 6: 30 that I would have to get up. I then sat in a waiting area before being loaded into a wheelchair, my bags and belongings piled on my lap and wheeled back to Cley Ward. On arrival I was placed in a consultation room to await discharge.

I decided not to make any fuss at the time, there seemed little point. I would end up distressed, the staff were not at fault, there was nothing I could do to change what was about to happen. How often do the poor staff get shouted at and blamed for this happening at NNUH? I am a resilient individual but there are many patients out there who are not and are extremely vulnerable especially after the trauma of surgery......and let's remember surgery is trauma!

Several very sympathetic and apologetic nurses came in to attend to my needs the next morning. All explained that they were appalled and fed up with this happening every night. They felt it was totally unacceptable and that patients must complain or it will continue to happen. Likewise my doctor friends have also told me to complain.

It is such a shame that practices such as this, give the whole hospital a tarnished reputation. The hospital was built with too few beds (well publicised at the time) and continues, I understand, to run at about 300 beds short of what is really needed which is absolutely scandalous. How can such a situation where patients are shipped around in the depths of the night be allowed to continue? It seems that the managers now consider this to be normal daily operating procedure! I feel extremely let down by the NHS. Quite shocking. I am told this only happens in Norwich!

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Responses

Response from Janice Bradfield, Senior Communications and Membership Manager, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

We are very sorry to hear about your experience in our hospital. Our services have been under pressure and we apologise for moving you during the night. Thank you for giving your feedback which will be passed to the senior management team.

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Response from Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital

We are very sorry to hear about your experience of being moved from one ward to another. Your feedback will be passed to the Director of Nursing and if you would like to speak to us in more detail, please contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service at: pals@nnuh.nhs.uk