"Lack of compassion for a very elderly man"

About: Epsom Hospital

My father was admitted to A & E on 22 Dec at 10pm after a 3 1/2 hr wait for an ambulance. We arrived separately and were kept waiting 45 mins as supposedly he was being seen by a doctor. After 2 hrs of inactivity we requested that he be given a saline drip as he was clearly dehydrated as he had been vomiting all day and also was in pain. We were advised at this time that blood tests results had not yet been received. At 3am a doctor who had come from St.Helier hospital began to assess him only to find that no blood tests had been taken. At 5am we were informed that he had a chest infection and an undetermined stomach bleed and that there were no beds available in the hospital and would have to stay in A & E until there were. We finally left the hospital deeply upset that matters would have been much worse had we not been there to request some compassion and attention that had not been forthcoming in the first 5 hours. I feel that apart from the nice doctor from St.Helier every other member of staff that night avoided looking in our direction and failed to give the attention that was needed. The night spent in A and E was a harrowing experience for us. He was finally moved to Chuter Ede ward around mid-day where he stayed for the next week, which surprised us as we understood this was only an assessment unit. Once again the lack of information, lack of cleanliness(specifically the wash hand basin which wasn't cleaned for several days and the unpleasant smell coming from the toilet). We also had to request that my father be moved away from the draughty window as he was so cold(this was a 95 year old man being treated with a chest infection). Today we were asked to collect him from the ward at 3pm. We arrived at 2.50 only to find that he had been deposited in a poky little room with no facilities laughingly described as a discharge lounge! We do not know how long he had even there but when we arrived he was extremely thirsty and disoriented (yet again). No assistance was forthcoming and we had to request a wheelchair and help to get him to a waiting car. To sum up the care of my 95 year old father who has dementia lacked dignity or any sense of urgency that any person of any age should expect. In our opinion Epsom hospital fails the 'Friends and Family test'.

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Response from Epsom Hospital

I am very concerned to hear about your worries about the care given to your father. We have been very busy in recent weeks, and that has had an effect on our ordinary patient processes. However, the experience your father had at Epsom is simply unacceptable, and I would like to look your concerns. I would therefore be very grateful if you could get in touch with our Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS) on 01372 735243 or via email at pals@esth.nhs.uk so that we can contact you directly to discuss this further. Dr Ruth Charlton Joint Medical Director

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