"Shocked and appalled by my mother's care"

About: The Royal Liverpool University Hospital / Colorectal surgery

(as a relative),

A common and recurring theme of the NHS seems to be how the vulnerable and elderly are repeatedly failed and let down by the service. This is not something that I ever imagined I would experience myself, until my mother who is in her seventies, needed to undergo tests for suspected bowel cancer.

Whilst I acknowledge that such diseases are considered to be part of the ‘aging process’, this does not excuse the appalling attitude and practices we experienced.

To begin with the attitude of the doctor who carried out the colonoscopy left a lot to be desired. Despite my mother insistence she did not want sedation to undergo the procedure, her wishes appeared irrelevant and she was practically ‘bullied’ by the doctor into having a cannula fitted. Needless to say, as my mother had previously protested, sedation was not required, so why were my mother’s wishes ignored? This is not hearsay; I actually witnessed the conduct of the doctor and found them to be extremely unprofessional and more interested in how they could make the task in hand easier instead of listening to the wishes of the patient.

Following on from the procedure, my mother received feedback of the finding from a Nurse Practitioner. To say that they lacked people skills and compassion is somewhat of an understatement. My mother and I were informed that a ‘suspicious tumour’ had been found and although the word ‘cancer’ was never used, the manner in which the feedback was given suggested that this was exactly what they were dealing with. I do not consider it to be in anyway helpful to the patient nor professional to suggest to them that they have cancer, when they do not know this to be fact and without carrying out the relevant investigatory tests. This has caused untold upset and distress to my mother.

We were also informed that my mother required a CT scan and that someone would contact her to confirm the appointment. We were also provided with details of a Key Worker. The appointment arrived through the post and to date – the colonoscopy was carried out in early March 2015 - my mother has yet to be contacted by the key worker. I have made repeated attempts to contact them on the telephone number provided, but have always been greeted by an answering machine.

My mother had her CT scan in mid-March 2015. Several days later and without prior warning, she received an appointment for an MRI scan. This caused yet even more stress and anxiety, which could have been alleviated, had someone bothered to take the time to contact my mother to inform her that this additional test was required.

My mother has a Follow Up appointment later in April 2015. As the date is in the future, she has not yet had the opportunity to attend this appointment, when this morning she received another letter confirming yet another Follow Up appointment in July 2015? So from my mother’s initial contact with her GP who arranged for her to be referred to the hospital, is she really expected to wait over five months before she is informed of the outcome of the investigations?

I am extremely frustrated by what can only be described as farcical, so I would dread to think how someone who is elderly and vulnerable and who has no support from family and friends would be feeling under similar circumstances. Removing myself from the equation, the only person my mother has received any support from during this anxious and worrying episode has been her GP. Had it not been for them, I am sure that my mother would feel even more isolated and detached than she does now.

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Response from Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust

Thank you for your comment. We are very sorry to hear that you have concerns and would like to speak to you; In order for us to look into this and investigate we need some further details. Can you please contact our PALs team who will be able to help you? You can contact them by phoning 0151 706 4903/2265, via PALS@rlbuht.nhs.uk or typetalk 18001 0151 706 4903/2265. Thank you.

Update posted by Maria Cannon (a relative)

I have observed that the practice of this NHS Trust is to generate a standard response, which can and does come across as being very disingeuous, therefore suggesting that patients and/or carers concerns are not being taken seriously.