"Poor experience of care at Countess of Chester"

About: Countess Of Chester Hospital

(as the patient),

It is now two years since my beloved husband was uncared for in the Countess of Chester Hospital when suffering from terminal cancer. Many of the nurses on the ward simply carried out routine checks and I felt they made no attempt whatsoever to make him comfortable.

I had to beg for water, when nil by mouth notices were left up longer than I felt was needed, meals came not as ordered, such as two bowls of the same insipid soup, and one calorie yoghurt for a patient who needed some energy. Trays were left uncleared for hours, and some sinks were blocked with foul water.

We had to appeal for an appointment with the consultant and spent two days with no information about a surgical procedure that was due, then postponed.

I felt a Macmillan nurse was patronising and was entrusted with medical decisions about treatment which were beyond her remit. She kept me waiting once for two hours beyond the appointed time, when I was hoping to bring my husband home. Since she ordered a blood transfusion, bringing him home was delayed by a precious two days as the transfusion was suspended overnight because it was not an emergency.

As a result, when I arrived at 10am to take him home, where he would die peacefully in the care of his family, the transfusion had not restarted, beds were unmade, curtains not drawn back. It was 4pm. before we brought him home. Futhermore I believe that his chances of survival were lessened because his operation eighteen months earlier only took place 10 weeks after diagnosis and because chemotherapy was delayed by MRSA contracted at the hospital.

Although we have always supported the NHS and my husband never complained, I would urge others to consider all the options, keep asking questions and be prepared to speak out when care and cleanliness are below standard. Nurses should leave the station more, have better communication when shifts change over, and be better supervised. Consultants should be approachable and not hide behind the wall of secrecy that is excused by the mantra of confidentiality.

I normally give praise where it is due. I could not bring myself to write a card, say thank you or donate to hospital funds nor to Macmillan Care as a result of this experience.

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Response from

We are really sorry that you feel that your husband was uncared for in the Countess of Chester Hospital when suffering from terminal cancer back in October 2005.

Your complaints are very specific, so we would very much like to meet with you to fully understand your experience and go through your husband’s notes with you, so you can see the requests he made and understand why we took the clinical decisions we did. Although you declined this offer in 2005, you may feel that you would like to do this now. If so, please contact Amanda Green, our PALS Manager on 01244 366066.

A lot has changed at the Countess in the two years since your difficult experience. Waiting times are much lower than they were when your husband was treated in 2005, and are still reducing. Extra domestics have been provided to clear trays faster after meals, our catering team have just been awarded 3 Platinum Awards by Chester City Council for high standards of food hygiene and healthy, nutritious options and we are in the process of a multi-million pound ward refurbishment that will include the removal of nurses stations.

We take great pride in the care we give our patients, and your experience is something we take very seriously. Last year, we received a 40Top Hospitals award for the seventh consecutive year (one of only seven Trusts in the entire country to achieve this) in recognition of our clinical outcomes and quality. Though this does not help with your situation, it hope it assures you that we are constantly trying to learn and improve the care that we provide. I hope we can get together soon to talk about your experience. I am really sorry you had such a difficult time.

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