"A doctor told me “Your mum’s on the way out”"

About: Kingston Hospital / Older people's healthcare

(as a relative),

My mother recently was a patient at Kingston Hospital on a number of occasions and each time I had a number of concerns. Firstly, I saw poor hygiene eg. faeces on the curtain around the bed and twice on the floor by her bed. Often she would need a bed pan and having asked a nurse to provide this I was told twice to tell her to go in the bed. I also noticed the fans in the summer were caked in dust ,so I raised this as a concern with the sister, but nothing was done. Secondly, from what I saw those patients needing help with eating/drinking received none. Thirdly on a number of occasions staff could not even get my mother's name right. Notes went missing frequently. My mother had breathing problems, but she was often left to slip down the bed which added to these problems. Above all (with a couple of exceptions) I was upset by the lack of compassion and empathy by some doctors and most of the nursing staff. One registrar by my mother's bed accused my father (84) and me of bringing my mother into Kingston simply to give us respite! He said that it was all in her mind and he would arrange for the psychologist to see her. I pointed out that she was depressed given the pain she was in etc. ,but that previously she had been examined and this had been ruled out as the cause of her problems.

On another occasion my father and I were leaving my mother's room in tears, only to be approached by a staff nurse asking if we had change for a £5 note for the phone. I shall never forget how a doctor told me my mother was going to die - "Your mum's on the way out ". She then handed me a copy of the Liverpool palliative care plan and left me alone with my mother in the side room. I know that nurses have a lot to put up with as part of the job ,but in my opinion very often it is not shortage of staff which is the problem, but rather that many nurses inspire no confidence whatsoever. I could not consider many as professional people, given the way they behaved towards us. Many elderly patients were begging for help with bed pans etc, but on more than a couple of occasion the senior ward nurse was actually to be seen at the computer ,with two other nurses, looking at wedding dresses on the internet! In addition tablets were to be seen on the floor of the ward and I often saw nurses leave the ward leaving the drugs cabinet open. In addition many nurses seemed incapable of using much of the medical machinery on the ward. Some would make an excuse that the machine was different from the machine on the other ward. I believe that the nurses know that visitors hesitate to complain when they know that their loved one is at their mercy when they go from the hospital. I am pleased to see that from the view opinions expressed here about Kingston they do seem to get some things right - perhaps I and my father were simply unlucky.

I hear so many incidents from colleagues at work etc which tell me that recent reports such as that at Stafford the other week are NOT isolated cases. We all know from personal experience that often the NHS simply fails families at the most difficult time eg. the events surrounding the death of a loved one. Unfortunately we seem to have to rely upon our politicians to put things right. They can only make excuses and occasionally give an "apology" - hollow words I am afraid.

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