"Discharge processes"

About: Caithness General Hospital / General Surgery

(as a relative),

My husband is 82 and suffering from advanced Parkinson’s disease. I am 75 and sole carer.

In January I attended a Parkinson’s clinic on behalf of my husband who was unfit to be taken.

The consultant read the summary of medical events since the last review and said that he should be admitted that afternoon to Caithness General Hospital in Wick (20 miles from Thurso) for a few days, for Parkinson’ assessment. I was to arrange ambulance transport and attend the admission procedure.

After numerous phone calls, he was taken by ambulance to Wick. In very poor road conditions, a friend and I followed the ambulance for the admission, content in the knowledge that I would have ‘a few days’ respite and advice on future care needs.

A day later at 1. 30pm I had a telephone call from the Rosebank Wing of Caithness General to tell me that my husband was being discharged that afternoon and ‘when could I collect him? ’I couldn’t due to adverse road conditions and the problem of getting assistance with him at such short notice.

Innumerable telephone calls later he was returned at approximately 5. 30pm in a singly manned ambulance. Fortunately a passing neighbour offered help and he was taken inside.

My husband had no idea whether or not he had, had his afternoon medication or a meal before leaving hospital. The bag of medications was on top of his bag and discharge notes gave no indication so I phoned the Rosebank Wing again; to be told that his Madopar (essential Parkinson medication) had been left on the medicine trolley and would I be able to collect it? I couldn’t collect it from Wick or from the Dunbar hospital in Thurso since my husband could not be left alone.

This time the phone calls were interspersed with getting a meal for and seeing to his personal needs and explaining to him that I couldn’t give him relief medication for his back pain because I had no idea how much he had had that day. The Madopar was delivered by hospital porter at approximately 8. 30pm.

This experience was very stressful for my husband and traumatic for me. I am not making a formal complaint to NHS Highland because it would be investigated internally and possibly add fuel to evaluation of the sustainability of NHS services in Caithness. I do though share this experience in the hope that other people will receive a higher quality service in the future.

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Response from Maimie Thompson, Head of Public Relations and Engagement, Chief Executive's Office, NHS Highland

picture of Maimie Thompson

Dear Sithean

This is quite simply awful and distressing enough to read about, far less experinence. I am so sorry that you had all this to contend with and I would hope there would be a better way of managing this. So I thank you for sharing, appreciate your desire to help others and apologise.

While I respect your decision to not make a formal complaint the process is in place to allow us to investigate and make improvments. In this case I will be recommending that we do review the care. Yes there are some challenges around sustaining services in Caithness but we need to meet these challenges not accept poorer standards of care. We may have to do some things differently but that does not mean accepting poor care. I would value a follow-up chat if you would find that helpful. 01463 74722 maimie.thompson@nhs.net

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Update posted by Sithean (a relative)

Thank you for responding. I will contact you as suggested.

By way of an update since my last posting when the email was sent to Patient Opinion I had had no feedback on my husband’s hospital visit. On Monday 9th February I telephoned Caithness General to find out. A (very helpful) secretary told me that the consultant who had ordered the Parkinson’s assessment was away and might not be back: the case had been dealt with by a locum consultant, who has now left, and a report had been sent to the GP. I saw the GP on Wednesday 11th Feb. The GP retrieved the report which stated that my husband had been admitted as the result of a fall. There was no mention at all of Parkinson’s.

Certainly he had had a fall on the morning of the review with the consultant, on the morning of 28th January but that had been dealt with by emergency services and a GP visit later that day. The consultant told me to tell staff that he was admitted for Parkinson’s assessment and I certainly passed on the information several times whilst arranging the ambulance and during admission to the hospital.