"After having a fall and struggling ..."

About: Queen Elizabeth I I Hospital (Welwyn Garden City)

(as a relative),

What could be improved

After having a fall and struggling for about a week my mother finally got a visit from her GP who called for an ambulance to take her to QE2 on the 20th of July. After x-rays to her knee and much waiting around she was sent home that evening and told that everything was fine even though she was unable to walk or bear any weight on that leg. Some 10 days later a physiotherapist visited her at home and suggest that she called for an ambulance to take my mother back to QE2 because she thought that she had a fractured hip. Upon examination it was agreed that it was indeed broken and so she was admitted and had a hip replacement operation the next day, nearly three weeks after her fall. Unfortunately my mother suffers with Progressive Cerebellar Ataxia, which is probably the reason that she was unsure of which part of her leg was damaged in the first instance but this is not an excuse for it going undetected by A&E initially. The ataxia leads to complications with her rehabilitation not only because she is quite immobile anyway but it does require some additional understanding and treatment - she has already been dropped once! She is still in the QE2 and I believe that she does not receive the required help and is not being kept informed of what the current or future course of action is to be. These comments must not be taken as a criticism of the nursing staff, who have been great, but a criticism of the way that things are coordinated if a patient does not fall into a standard treatment slot.

I look forward to receiving your comments.

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Response from Queen Elizabeth I I Hospital

We are grateful to you for getting in touch and letting us know what’s happening to your mother while at the QEII. Your comments relate to two important matters – the first is the accuracy of taking and interpreting x-rays and the second is in dealing with someone who has an underlying condition that may or may not interfere with their ability to engage with those caring for them.

With regard to x-rays, although errors can happen I am sure that none of the QEII staff would find your mother's experience acceptable – no matter what the circumstances involved. With regard to the progressive cerebellar ataxia, as long as they were aware of this problem it should not have interfered with the decisions made about your mother's care or its promptness and how it is shared with her and the family.

We would very much like to involve the matron who manages the ward where your mother is at the moment in her care, if you have not done so already. We have over 30 matrons at our Trust now and part of their role is to step in to situations where help may be needed to make sure that patients are getting the right level of care. This is especially the case when relatives – such as you in the case of your mother – are unhappy at how things are currently.

You can ask to speak with the matron for your area or if you prefer, you can send us your name and contact details (along with your mother's details so the relevant matron can look in to the matter before s/he makes contact) by e-mail to generalenquiries.enh-tr@nhs.net. Either way, you should get the help that you need to give you greater peace of mind that your mother is getting the care and support she requires while at the QEII.

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