"Treatment in A&E was excellent."

About: Royal Blackburn Hospital

(as the patient),

What I liked

Treatment in A&E was excellent.

What could be improved

I remained on a ward for 5 nights with a broken neck. I was not once examined by a doctor. Nursing care was variable (with 1 excellent exception). My wife had to intervene on several occasions to ensure the most basic care was received. For the 1st 2 days I didn't eat: food was brought, left on a tray beside me which I couldn't reach, and removed untouched an hour later. I only received assistance on the 3rd day, after asking for help. On the 3rd day, instead of washing me the nurse told me to wash myself (lying on back with neck broken). When I asked if she could wash my back she said she was too busy & didn't return. Spent sutures dropped on my bed by cleaners. Noone seemed to know what care I was supposed to receive, with nursing manager, orthotics, and physiotherapists all seemingly unaware of, & contradicting, what each other had said. It would regularly take upto an hour for a nurse to respond to a call buzzer. When the drip bag emptied & the machine alarm sounded most nurses didn't know how to turn the alarm off or change the bag; they simply put the alarm on snooze for 2 minutes and disappeared so that the alarm re-sounded. The situation descended into farce the day before I discharged. First the nursing manager informed me that a new neck collar was on its way and would be fitted within an hour or so; over 2 hours later a manager from orthotics appeared to "measure me for a collar" so that it could be ordered for delivery 3-4 days later; then as I queried this and expressed despair over how different parts of the care team didn't seem to communicate, somebody else from orthotics arrived with the collar and fitted it. As this was happening, the consultant in charge of my treatment appeared at the door for the 1st and only time. Instead of examining me or investigating the problem, he simply called from the door that I should think myself lucky as 99% of people with my injury would be unable to walk again, & left.

So "what could be improved?" Everything!

Anything else?

I really hope that my experience is a rare one. Sadly, I suspect it isn't.

Story from NHS Choices

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