"We looked after each other at Singleton Hospital, Swansea"

About: Singleton Hospital / General Surgery

(as the patient),

After a couple of years of increasing pain but no diagnosis I was admitted to Singleton Hospital, Swansea to have an ulcerated section of colon removed.

Waking up in pain on the High Dependency Unit I asked the nurse on duty in the tiny four bed room for help. She glanced up, and with a mouthful of Pot Noodle (the stench from which turned my stomach) told me that I 'must expect some discomfort'.

When the pain became unbearable I asked for help again. With a deep sigh she reluctantly got up from her desk and slowly sauntered the few feet to my bed. Only when she had turned on the bedside light did it become apparent that the epidural drip had become detached for so long that I was lying in a pool of liquid anaesthetic. The drip came out three times during my three day stay on HDU.

Back on Ward 4 the more active amongst the patients were obliged to care for the other patients as it seemed to me that some nurses spent their time hiding from us. Judging by the laughter coming from the nurses room they seemed happy enough to ignore their vulnerable charges. We had to look after ourselves and each other, fetching water, plumping pillows, making sure the elderly ate some of the congealing slop masquerading as food, in fact everything short of fitting catheters.

One incident in particular is typical of the lack of cars and concern routinely displayed by the nurses I met. A woman in the next bay had the misfortune to have her colostomy bag burst. The smell was so bad that the other 'inmates' had to leave the bay with the poor woman sitting in her own excreta, sobbing with distress and humiliation. When the nurses were alerted to the situation they bawled 'We're not clearing that up, we're finishing soon and it would put us off our dinner'. So they left her there for the afternoon shift to deal with and went back to their magazines in their hideout.

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