"My husband's care for a stroke"

About: Northampton General Hospital (Acute) / General medicine

(as a relative),

My husband suffered a stroke at home in October and was taken to Northampton General Hospital where apparently all acute stroke patients in the county are taken in the first instance.

The very next day I received a call from a doctor at the hospital to say my husband had fallen out of bed and injured himself. I couldn't visit a couple of days later and when I saw my husband, I could barely believe my eyes. He was lying in a bed in front of the nurses' station that all and sundry were trekking past, dressed in a dirty hospital gown (he had clothes with him) with his bare backside hanging out for the world to see.

He was covered in bruises and complained of being thirsty and in pain. He had no drip or drink that I could see. The next day he again indicated he was thirsty, the best I managed to get out of the staff is 'he's got no signs of dehydration today'. I had asked the staff time and again if he had had a chest x-ray, having had broken ribs before. No one answered that question, though the on-duty doctor snapped at me and told me he didn’t have a chest infection, which is a rather curious answer to a question about broken bones.

When I called later in the day to see how he was doing, I was told he needs an MRI scan. I was under the impression that since a diagnosis had been given to me days before, he had already had one. The person I spoke with could not tell me about a diagnosis. The following day I was told he needs 'another scan' but wasn't told what scan or what for. A couple of days later he was being treated for a chest infection and though there by now was NBM written on his board, there were no IV fluids, nor ng tube.

Since when this NBM had been on his board have no idea, as no member of staff thought it necessary to tell me. When I asked, the reply was didn’t anyone tell me? He again was very thirsty and there was no oral care anywhere near him. It took staff 45 minutes to provide some and when I requested a spare set, I was told it is not possible to provide this as they had run out. When I called in later on, I was told by the person who was 'caring' for him that she had told my husband that he may never get any better because she didn't want to give him false hopes. A week after a stroke?

Needless to say by this time I was seriously concerned about my husband's welfare as he had lost a lot of weight and his condition was getting worse by the day. So I called the hospital early to see if he at last would be transferred to Kettering General. I was told in no uncertain terms that patients never get transferred at weekends. I told the person I spoke with that I would be visiting that afternoon with a medically trained friend and would have a word with an advocate as well. Amazingly a bed was found for my husband within a couple of hours and I was told that there is no need for me to visit.

My husband was transferred to Kettering General Hospital without his MRI scan, which a member of staff in Kettering told me Northampton well knew was needed. As I was there anyway, I offered to call the hospital to request it. Which I did, to be told by whoever answered the phone that should the consultants in Kettering require them, they will contact the consultants at Northampton to request them and that as I already have such a lot on my plate, I should not concern myself with these issues which in any case are none of my business. I told the lady that I was in fact calling from the hospital and would she like to speak with a member of staff who said she would need those scans. By the time the sister got to the phone, the person in Northampton had hung up. My husband was immediately put on a drip as he was dehydrated and was later on treated for re-feeding syndrome.

All this was deeply upsetting so I asked our MP for advice and he put in a complaint to NGH on my behalf. They were unable to complete their enquiries in the time they had allotted themselves, and naturally I didn't mind giving them the extension they requested. I finally received a response from them in mid January. The response to the first question was 14 lines of waffle.

The hospital took great care to assure me my complaint had been taken seriously. Is this for real? Every time I spoke to a member of staff at this hospital, I received a different reply and obfuscation seems to be the most appropriate word for this waste of paper of a response that I received, though fortunately senior staff has been made aware of my complaint. I was rather disappointed with this reply, so, as per instructions, I replied to the complaints department. I asked them to thank the hospital and explained that my understanding of how the answer would be more of an hour by hour report which would include his medical notes to which I was not allowed access to at the time despite having requested to see them, as well as his care plan etc, which I also didn't see and was denied access to.

The complaints department replied to me to say they will investigate, this will take 25 days and my husband's hospital records are not their department. The Access Office has sent me a four page application form which requires independent witnesses and demands a charge for the records which may be £50 and does not include a £10 administration fee. Whatever the fee turns out to be, it is to be paid upon request prior to the release of any documents. I have lost count how many consent forms I have provided them with so far.

It is stressful enough to have one's healthy husband turn into a disabled one in matter of minutes without having to fear for his safety in a hospital and then receive replies like this when you want to know what happened. This reply really beggars belief and I'm sorry I bothered to ask. I'm very disappointed and what really concerns me is how many stories like this -and much worse- I've heard since October.

My husband is still in hospital, as he has been since Boxing Day, in a ward totally unsuited to his needs, without the therapies he should have been receiving, still waiting for a bed, though thankfully it now looks like the transfer closer to home for some well-deserved and long-waited for rehab might actually take place. You didn't expect there to be a date, did you: )

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