"My elderly relative was admitted to..."
About: Russells Hall Hospital Russells Hall Hospital Dudley DY1 2HQ
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What I liked
My elderly relative was admitted to Russell's Hall on two separate occasions as an emergency for the same illness. Accident and Emergency doctors and nurses worked well together and provided an excellent service even though they were clearly very busy. They were polite and co-operative. EAU also seemed to work well and again nurses and doctors were polite and co-operative. On my relative's first visit she was admitted to Ward C1 and the quality of care was generally high, apart from at weekends when there seemed to be a shortage of staff. This meant that nurses were very rushed and did not always have the time to close curtains properly before attending to patients. In spite of what seemed to be a significant amount of care being provided by FY1 doctors and trainee nurses, I was generally happy with my relative's care here. Tests were done efficiently. The standard of food was very high.
What could be improved
The problem came when my relative was readmitted, again as an emergency for the same illness. When admitted to a ward, I became quite concerned. One of the sisters I encountered was rude and offhand with both patients and relatives. Discharge from the ward was rushed and in spite of being asked to be kept informed, my relative's discharge from the ward was sudden - occurring after I had insisted that certain information be marked in her notes. I tried to question the decision to discharge her. One sister and social services tried to help as best they could. The doctor I spoke to was rude and aggressive. They questioned my level of education and claimed they would have to use simple language for me to understand. I informed them that I have a master's degree, but they continued to patronise me claiming that they would not use medical terms (terms I had used when speaking to them) because they wanted to use words I would understand. They refused to let me speak, pausing only very briefly for breath. Thus I was not allowed time or space to ask questions. When I expressed concern that my relative had appeared well last time she was discharged and had seriously deteriorated with 48 hours, the doctor replied that she may well have to be readmitted and only God could know that. I was not allowed to speak to my relative at any time during this, and as I live some distance away could not visit her on the day in question. There was no registrar or consultant available to speak to on the ward. I eventually spoke to a matron and gave up in tears.
Patients and relatives deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Just because our degrees are not in medicine it does not mean we are stupid and deserve to be talked down to. I know the hospital had a lot of emergency admissions on the day it discharged my relative and that staff were stressed and desperate for beds, but that is no excuse. Until her admission on this ward, I was ready to contact the hospital and congratulate staff on a good standard of care, but now I am very unhappy. My relative is still very ill and lives alone. Staff said she wanted to come home, and accused me of trying to keep her in hospital against her will but that is not the case. She did not really have any option but to come home when her doctor told her she was going home that day. The hospital knew she is hospital phobic and would agree to come home even if seriously ill. At least a step down service should have been offered, or possibly a visit from a district nurse. She is elderly and vulnerable and deserves better care than this.