"Clementine A"

About: Queen's Hospital / General medicine

My daughter recently spent a week as an in patient on this ward. On admission she was left in the middle of the ward for several hours as her 'bed space' was not ready. She was very unwell, in a lot of pain and vomiting. Each time we asked why she had been brought up from downstairs we were told that they were expecting to discharge lots of patients and her space would soon be ready. When we questioned this, we were told that this was 'their way of doing things'. However, our main concern was the total lack of communication from the nursing staff throughout her stay. With the exception of one sister and one student nurse (I do know their names but am aware I am not meant to write personal details on here) every member of staff attended to my daughter without saying anything to her or to us. How is it possible in the caring profession to attend to a patient e.g. to administer drugs, to check urine bags, to check cannulas and infusions etc, without saying a single word?

Apart from the previously mentioned two, all of this (and more) was done to my daughter without talking to her or explaining anything to her. She was actually meant to be having her input/output measured but no-one actually asked her if she had had a drink! Equally important, they never asked her how she was - how her pain was etc. We had to beg for pain relief - the average wait was an hour. Full up vomit bowls were left on the side, as were dirty items of laundry (sometimes throughout two shifts). The doctors were excellent, but as the nursing staff did not accompany the doctors on their rounds they were unaware of what had been discussed. When studying subjects such as nursing or Health and Social Care many classroom hours are devoted to 'communication skills', yet these seem to be completely absent on this ward. The two good members of staff were the complete opposite to the rest - they laughed and joked, listened to her, asked how she was and generally made her feel better just by talking with her. Surely, this is the kind of basic nursing care that should be demonstrated by all. To finish, perhaps I should say that my daughter is a senior midwife and her sister (who visited each day) is a senior critical care sister (both at different hospital trusts) and I was a nurse myself many years ago. Therefore, we do all have some idea of how nurses and carers should behave towards their patients!

Story from NHS Choices

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