"Woefully poor communication"

About: Papworth Hospital

While I have no reason to doubt the clinical competence of this hospital I do seriously question the adequacy of communication both between the teams and with my husband, who is currently languishing in Hemmingford Ward following a by-pass. The problems became evident when he was awaiting an appointment at the hospital following initial investigations at the QEH. When no letter arrived after two weeks we rang Papworth only to be told that they were waiting for him to contact them. One can't help but wonder what would have happened if no contact had been made - presumably people could die waiting - and I do not say that in any amused tone. Arriving for an angiogram my husband was repeatedly referred to as 'Darling' by the staff - where exactly is the dignity and respect in that. He was left hanging around with little or no information. At one stage a doctor(?) appeared at the bottom of his bed, read his notes, asked if he was Mr X and on discovering my husband was not he, simply walked away. The staff on the admissions ward appeared to be running about like headless chickens with no apparent direction and no visible management presence. When we politely asked if my husband could go home to rest before his operation we were told, rather bluntly I thought, that if he had a cardiac arrest at home then he 'would die'. In my opinion there are kinder and more tactful ways to convey this information to a patient and his wife who were already struggling to come to terms with the unexpected news that a by-pass was needed. Then there was the issue of when the operation would take place. There appeared to be two lists - one saying Wednesday which the nurses were working to and one saying Monday which the doctors thought was the date. Was there some sort of stand off between the two teams? Who knows. This lack of clarity caused additional distress and did not inspire confidence. And why is it that no one at Papworth ever gives their name, so we have no idea who we're dealing with. I thought it was standard practice in a public service to identify yourself - clearly Papworth thinks differently. Since his operation my husband is finding recovery difficult - the more so because no one tells him what is happening or explains the reason for various difficulties he is experiencing. Yesterday he rang me in such distress that I had to call the Patient Liaison Service who advised me to speak to the Matron. Finally, I found someone was who helpful and displayed empathy. Thank you Matron. However, she referred me to my husband's nurse, who did not inspire confidence in her uncertain explanations about what was going on. In fact she did not even know the name of the doctor who is treating my husband. I gather that the 'bank' nurses are allocated to different wards on each shift, so there is no continuity of care. Hardly surprising that the quality of communication fails. A patient is not just a body on a bed, they are a person, please listen to and talk to them!

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Response from Papworth Hospital

We are very sorry to hear of your experience. Papworth Hospital works very hard to make the experience of all of our patients as good as possible, and, as your feedback is does not reflect the feedback we would routinely get about our services, we are very keen to get to the bottom of the issues you have raised. To ensure we can investigate your concerns fully we would appreciate it if you would contact our Patient Advice and Liaison team again to discuss the matter further or alternatively you can make a formal complaint by emailing viewpoint@papworth.nhs.uk or calling our complaints department on 01480 364275 between 9.00am and 4.30pm.

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