"Appalling lack of care, advice and poor quality food."

About: Hemel Hempstead Hospital / Gynaecology St Albans City Hospital / Gynaecology Watford General Hospital / Gynaecology

(as the patient),

Where do I start?

First experience two weeks ago required A+E assistance. Had to travel 10 miles to the nearest A+E through the busy congested town of Watford to get help because the local NHS trust saw fit to close the close the A+E unit in Hemel Hempstead which is much closer. Arrived at the hospital haemorrhaging due to a miscarriage two days before. Was checked over and sent up to the ward to be examined by the doctor who was not there but was apparently performing a caesarean section and I would have to wait until she was finished. In the meantime I could have bleed to death.

The nurse said ‘A+E should not have sent you up here’ - the ward had not been told I was coming, so they left me in a room bleeding profusely for an hour until a very nice lady doctor arrived. She asked several questions and examined me and attempted to explain that I should stay the night under observation. This I managed to fathom after several attempts at asking her to repeat what she was saying, the doctor had an extremely heavy Indian accent and I had real trouble understanding what she was saying to me. This was very frustrating.

My second incident involved a young ward nurse in the morning. I asked if she needed to examine the loss of blood like the duty nurse had done last night after I had been to the toilet. She looked at me with a blank expression and replied ‘oh well if the other nurse has already done it I don’t need too’. I explained again speaking slowly and she said ‘oh I don’t know how to remove the clot from the lavatory’. I explained that the nurse last night did it with a long pair of tweezers.

I was carrying twins and there was a chance I might have been losing the second baby. The only way to check over the bank holiday weekend was to examine the blood loss. The nurse said ‘ok I will come and check it’. I left the toilet and discovered the cleaner outside waiting to go in and clean, I asked the cleaner to please not pull the chain as the nurse needs to check something. The cleaning lady who spoke good English said ok, yet no sooner as my back was turned she went in to the toilet and pulled the chain flushing any evidence down the loo. I was very upset by this.

The young nurse came in to the room half an hour later and asked me what had happened. I explained what happened and said ‘had you attended to me when I made the request this would not have happened’, instead she just went back to the nurses station and was chatting to her young colleague. Then another nurse came in, presumably a senior and apologised followed by the cleaning lady who also said sorry. They then had the cheek to say ‘do you think you have lost the baby?’ I replied “who knows” and “too late now you flushed the evidence down the toilet”.

Prior to this event it was preceded by a dreadful nights sleep on the most uncomfortable bed ever. Provided with a blanket that looked as though it had been in use since the 1970s. It resembled a thin rag. I was only given one blanket, I was freezing so had to cover myself with my coat to keep warm. I did not sleep all night.

I was asked if I wanted a cup of tea - this offer was certainly a welcome one. To my horror, I was handed a vending machine dispensed paper cup of what looked like dirty dishwater, the milk content tasted off.

This was followed later by a lunch time meal that was described as Shepherd’s Pie and vegetables. Lets ignore for a moment that it was a child’s size meal, it’s smell resembled dog food. I wanted to keep an open mind and my hunger surpassed the unnatural odour. One small mouthful confirmed that I really should not have bothered. The potato had the consistency of cotton wool and tasted unnatural and the meat seemed no more than minced gristle and fat which in my opinion tasted foul. The veg was a pile of shredded raw carrot that had dried up and turned brown making it look like straw. The salad was ok though, I ate that. The trifle was just all mush with no fruit and I didn’t like the taste. The yoghurt was a cheap brand I have never heard of so I did not risk it.

I could not wait to get out of there and begged for the doctor to come and discharge me. The doctor came eventually after the sixth request, I’ll be here in half an hour was the promise I was given. He did come to the ward once during this time but apparently forgot to come see me! He seemed to have a reasonable bedside manner however, until he said due to my symptoms the chances are I will have lost the other twin but suggested I took sometime off work. He went on to joke and say how he does not need much excuse himself to have time off work. Why was I not surprised?

Each bed had its very own pull down TV with all Sky channels and you could apparently play computer games on and phone your family. I pulled it to me to call my husband only to be told by another patient that I would have to pay for a card which cost £25 in order to use the equipment. She bought one three days ago but it had already run out. These things must have cost a couple of thousand pounds each and yet I didn’t have a decent blanket on the bed. I would have paid happily for a nice warm comfy quilt.

Given that the ward was virtually empty, looks like these TVs are not paying for themselves and no doubt a large number of patients could not afford the £25, anyway. Especially after they have been charged four pounds for twenty mins parking in the hospital car park for their previous six visits.

Next episode.. As it became apparent after receiving another scan two days later confirming the second baby was ok, two weeks pass by and the bleeding started again. I had a pre-booked appointment with Hemel hospital for a scan for the Friday. I had been up all night in agonising pain and decided it best for my husband to drive me straight to the appointment. I concluded a scan would be the best and quickest way to establish what was happening.

Mine was an early morning appointment and we arrived with me in tears and doubled over in agony. The sonographer said to me, "yeah, can you sit in this room and wait I have another lady waiting. I will try not to forget about you. We were not expecting you both to turn up on time”. My thoughts were - this lady who is waiting is she in excruciating pain? What happened to prioritising your work and using discretion?

If I had been the other lady who seemed to be waiting quite happily with a blossoming healthy bulge I would not have objected to waiting a little longer for someone who was clearly in trouble. But they left me to wait for 20mins. I have to say this woman did not instil any confidence in me at all, she was scruffily dressed and spoke poor English (even though I think she was of English descent).

She seemed uncomfortable with my distress and gave no advice to me at all. She called her female colleague to confirm her diagnosis that the baby had died, who again came in not wearing a white coat. She stood there, looked at the screen and said “yea yea definitely no heart beat”. I had absolutely no trust or faith in either of these two people. How can two women like that be trusted to carry out complex checks when they can not dress, speak and behave professionally? I came out feeling completely devastated and clutching a bundle of information that she thrust in my hand and told me to read.

I realised I had my first appointment with my midwife booked at St Albans Hospital for 12.00 noon, I figured there would be no point in wasting their time or mine as I was no longer pregnant. I tried to call to cancel the appointment - the phone rang for twelve minutes, as was the case last week. I thought the hospital must be closed. Eventually a young chap answered the call.

I asked to be transferred to the Ante-Natal clinic. I waited and must not have heard his response. The next thing I know, he is shouting down the phone at me "SAY THANK YOU". I thought what for? did you say something? I was waiting to be transferred he must have said something that I did not hear and so he saw fit to shout down the phone and tell me off. I hate to think what happens to the hard of hearing or the elderly - do they get shouted at too?

I was finally put through to Ante-Natal only to wait whilst the phone rang for 15 mins after which I gave up and hung up as I was feeling positively hung out to dry and angry as anything. The later events happened just today.

I would like to opt out of paying the huge amount in NHS contributions and pay nothing because I hardly ever use their services and this is the way they treat people. I am off to purchase a private health care insurance policy for me and my family because I have no confidence in the NHS... let’s not talk about MRSA.

Am I angry and bitter? .....you bet!

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