"No dignity for my mother in her last days at Great Western Hospital"

About: Patient Opinion The Great Western Hospital

(as the patient),

My Mum was admitted to the Great Western Hospital in Swindon in June last year when she was 80. She had gone downhill quite rapidly during the preceeding few weeks and had had a mastectomy approx 4 years earlier.

Initially, she was on the Acute Assessment Ward and was treated efficiently and well. After a couple of days, she was taken to Jupiter Ward and it was on this ward that she died. I am afraid I have been left with very mixed feelings about her treatment whilst on this ward and am pleased to have found this forum to "share my story". I thought about making a complaint at the time, but when you have lost someone that you loved so dearly, quite honestly, the last thing you want to do is to have to go over it all again.

Although it took nearly 2 weeks (as far as I was concerned) to reach a "diagnosis" it was pretty clear to most of us that things were not looking good for Mum. She passed away on the Sunday morning having been in hospital for 10 days. I was called in to see a Consultant about her condition on the Friday before she died.

When visiting Mum it seemed to me that the care she received on that ward varied wildly. I visited her early in the afternoon and every evening so I was there a lot. Sometimes I would arrive and it looked like she was truly being "nursed", looked after and cared for but that, in my opinion, was a rarity. Food and drink was brought to her, left on her tray and taken away. She didn't want to eat but couldn't reach the table anyway – it was left out of her reach and no attempt had been made to help her. Mum was a quiet, uncomplaining soul. Perhaps if she had "made more of a fuss" things might have been different…..

It just seemed to me that a lot of the time, the staff just either couldn't be bothered or were too busy elsewhere. They were going through the motions, taking temperatures, b.p. and the like, filling out charts and moving on. It was clear that this ward was understaffed at the time. The nurses appeared stressed and rushed. We heard them complaining about the situation to one another.

Early on in her stay Mum told me that she "was sure a bed pan was still underneath her". I thought she must be mistaken but checked and sure enough, there it was. She said it had been there for over an hour and I have no reason to disbelieve her. Other times, towards the end, I would arrive and find the curtain around her bed drawn right back – she was afforded no dignity and I found this extremely upsetting.

It was difficult to find anyone in authority who could speak to me knowledgably about her condition. When it was clear that she was going to die, I asked if she could be moved to a private room and was told that unfortunately, one wasn't available. This too was dreadful and undignified but I was just too worn out and upset to make a fuss.

I sincerely hope that the situation on this ward has improved since my Mum's stay last year. Our general experience of the GWH had been a good one and I have always been a strong advocate of the NHS and in particular our local hospital. I just feel so disappointed that it let us down when we needed it most…..

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