"* I had major (planned) surgery ..."

About: St Mary's Hospital (London)

What I liked

* I had major (planned) surgery and was in hospital for 5 days. It gets reported a lot but it's true - the nurses work hard (12 hour shifts), they were professional, friendly and helpful and communicated well with eachother (at shift handover for example).

* The entrance to the ward and every bed had antibacterial gel for use by healthcare staff, visitors and patients. The ward floor was cleaned daily, first mopped and then followed up with industrial cleaner. The beds were stripped, wiped down and remade everyday.

* I felt I was in control of my pain relief. Immediately after surgery I had PCA (patient controlled analgesia) and it was my decision when to stop having it. Likewise when I needed a cough suppressant I was given it. I never had to wait for my painkillers, the nurses were prompt everytime.

* A newspaper trolley came around every morning and a mobile library visited once a week. I bought newspapers everyday, it was a very useful service.

* I was extremely fortunate that my operation wasn't delayed or cancelled, and that there was a bed available for me. My operation was successful and I thank all the healthcare professionals involved in my care on Samaritan Ward.

What could be improved

* The layout of the beds could be better. I didn't like directly facing another patient - not all patients feel like chatting to one another. Simple remedy is to move all the beds on one side of the ward along slightly, so they are 'off-set'. This means beds are not facing eachother, thereby causing less awkwardness.

* A patients' record is kept in a folder at the foot of the bed. The contents are emptied when patient is discharged, but the folder gets used again and again as it relates to the bed and not the patient. The folder does not get cleaned - potentially spreading germs.

* Signs to encourage people to use antibacterial gel could be made clearer.

* An electronic display board alerts the nurses with sound and text when a patient has pressed their buzzer. I feel information on whether the ward bathrooms are in use/free could be added to this. After surgery when I could barely walk, making my way to have a shower (which felt like miles away!) only to find it was in use (and would be for some time, meaning a trek back to my bed) was inconvenient, putting it mildly.

* The ward had one tv, which was only useful to the 6 or so patients situated nearest it. I think each patient could have the option of having a tv with headphones at their bed, even if it's pay per view. One patients taste in tv programmes is certainly not someone elses!

Anything else?

* Hospital food always gets complained about - but it's not expected to be Michelin star quality! I had no issue with the food. Vegetarians (me), vegans, high energy diet, low fat meals, Halal food - all catered for from a varied menu. An example of a meal I ate: saute potatoes, asparagus and mushroom quiche and fresh side salad. Their aim is to serve hot food hot and cold food cold.

* All wards should accept donations of unwanted items. I noticed that many patients had to wear two hospital gowns as they didn't have a dressing gown. I wanted to donate my (new) dressing gown and slippers to the ward but they told me I had to take it to another part of the hospital. When discharged, I asked at reception and they didn't know where to send me. As the NHS doesn't have money to waste, donations should be welcomed - perhaps install a clothes 'bin' on site.

* If a relative had to go into hospital and the treatment they needed can be provided at St Mary's, I would encourage them to choose there.

Story from NHS Choices

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