"King's College Hospital - Mary Ray Ward"

About: King's College Hospital (Denmark Hill)

(as the patient),

I spent a couple of days in Mary Ray ward at King's – in my opinion, it wasn't nice.

Most seriously, bar a quick ward round on the first afternoon (where the senior doctor said something I couldn't understand and wouldn't respond to my question about it), I wasn't seen by a doctor until I threatened to walk out (with part of a drip still attached). That's despite specifically having asked to see the doctor twice, and the nurses insisting that they'd bring one after they realised I was having heart trouble.

I'd been admitted to be put on a drip, but told I'd be going home the next day. The next day, my drip finished, so I went and had a shower to prepare to leave. I came back and was crushed to find another IV bag had been left at my bed. (With hindsight, I feel I should left then!) I was really distressed by this, particularly because the nurse who then came by was chatting to me for ages before I think she realised I was the patient, and she agreed to get the doctor to tell me what was happening. The doctor didn't, and my distress only grew.

I then asked for pain relief as I was developing a stress-induced migraine, and the promised doctor never arrived - the nurse told me the next day that they probably decided I shouldn't have the drip because of my illness. But most serious from my point of view is that at the nurse shift change on my last morning, the handover nurse said my tests had been for breathing and blood pressure problems, and when I asked if that might explain the chest pain I'd been having, she stopped short. I'd had them for about 8 hours by then, but had downplayed them (the woman in the bed next to me hollered for the doctor repeatedly about chest pains, and in contrast to my own experience, the doctors kept coming, but I believe she just needed Gaviscon!). I described the pains I was having, and the nurses said they'd get a doctor to come first thing. Well, that didn't happen. Around 7 hours later, the second drip finished. I removed as much of the drip as I could and a nurse did some more except she wouldn't take out the canula until the doctor had signed that off. And told me to wait. But I'd been waiting 2 days already for a doctor to speak to me- and the stress of that environment was too much- the lady in the bed next to me was becoming loud again and I couldn't bear to stay. The Dr saw me (which I believe was only because I was going to walk out) but even then (because I'd been so distressed by being in their hospital), the doctor said they were going to get me sectioned if I didn't wait to see the psychiatrist. Another 4 hour wait, but at least I didn't have to be on this ward any longer.

But it wasn't just not being seen by a doctor that had got me so stressed. I'd been admitted from A&E, and wasn't in a position to realise they were putting me into a dirty bed. (My husband also noticed rubbish attached to the TV and on top of the cabinets, and that all remained throughout my stay). I was more conscious the next morning when they did a bed-change, but it had been a relatively cool night so the smell wasn't terrible, and anyway, I'd been told I'd be leaving in a matter of hours- it didn't seem worth making a fuss. Except that I was then put on another 24 hour drip. And the ward is hot, and another woman in my ward commandeered the air conditioning unit. I woke up in the night with the smell of urine not just in the bed, but it felt like it had transferred onto my skin, and with the limited sleeping positions available whilst on a drip, I was having to spend half the night trying to sleep with an arm stinking of what I think was someone else's urine directly under my nose. And just in case you're thinking I'm the person who urinated in the bed - no- I was walking off to the loo many times an hour just out of boredom and lack of exercise.

So, if someone else's urine in your bed/on you/up your nose isn't bad enough, next day, they did a lunch round. But they didn't do a pre-run to check if anyone needed the loo beforehand. I was pretty disgusted when I realised that someone would be going to the loo in the bed diagonally opposite me whilst I was eating. But it took the cake when they didn't do up the curtains properly, and I was 'treated' with the sight of old lady’s backside and what comes out of it whilst I was eating. As I say, I'm on a drip at that time, and any movement needs planning and time to execute. There was no avoiding that sight.

Other 'minor' gripes- the TV over my bed wasn't working. Fine. So turn it off. But already in a stressful environment, I had to try and sleep while the hard drive in the TV whirred loudly throughout the night trying to restart itself. In my opinion, the food was rubbish (I don’t expect hospital food to be good, but it should at least be healthy. Why offer biscuits but not have fruit? Why when I asked for wholemeal bread was I given white? And why blame me for not being able to go to the toilet when you aren't feeding me fibre?!)

And this will sound less important than it is. The management information about patients on the ward always seemed to me to be out of date. From the moment I was put on the ward, my status on the nurse hub board was marked as 'going home'. Even after I asked the nurse about it when my drip was replaced. The maps of occupied beds was always wrong. I'd have survived in an emergency; my bed was marked as occupied, I could move myself. But in my group of 4, one lady spent the whole time I was there in a bed which was marked as unoccupied.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››