"My recent care at Northern General Hospital was excellent for the most part"

About: Northern General Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as the patient),

I fell over and broke my leg very badly at 7am on day in mid April. The paramedics were kind, understanding but businesslike and did what little they could to make everything as painless as possible. The ambulance turned up within 10 minutes. I was treated with compassion and kindness by all staff, who made absolutely sure that I received adequate pain relief. One of the nursing staff in particular went out of his way to make sure I was as comfortable as possible until the relevant staff could see me. He took time to speak to me and keep me calm during the most traumatically painful experience I have ever had.

Following this I ended up in hospital for 22 days because I had to wait for complex surgery on my leg. During this time I was dealt without fault by compassionate, kind and professional nursing staff. Needless to say the doctors and surgeons have done a second to none job on fitting my Ilizarov frame and explaining what it is and how to live with it.

I've never had the need for emergency care before this and I didn't know what to expect. The excellent level of care I received is something I expected.

It's what happened next that really made me realize how lucky we are to have the service we do in this country and how important it is that we fight for it tooth and claw against any "reforms" that might steal this system that is such a source of British pride. Before I was discharged I was seen by a whole team of staff to make sure I could look after myself (occupational therapists and physiotherapists) before I left and even had a cab paid for me to get home and all necessary disability equipment sent home for me. I'd no idea to what extent I'd be helped to get back on my feet by the NHS and I don't know how to express how invaluable I think this service is. The physical and psychological boost all this care gave me brought me from a deep depression up to a positive approach to my temporary disability. It's no exaggeration to say that I could not have carried on my life without the professional behaviour and skill of the staff of Huntsman 6 ward at Northern General.

The only real problem (and it is a serious one) I experienced was one of resourcing. I discovered that 1 nurse is responsible for 12 patients or more. I do not think this is acceptable. There were at least 2 patients suffering dementia on our ward who took most of their time anyway. This meant that one morning I woke up in a lot of pain and it took 6 requests and one and a half hours to get pain relief. It only happened once I was in so much distress that I was shaking and in tears. I do not cry easily. What needs to be made clear is that I DO NOT blame the nurses for this. They do the best they possibly can under very difficult circumstances and at no point was I disappointed by their efficiency, but I think we are demanding the impossible of them.

So, the major criticism I have is of funding distribution and resourcing. In my opinion nursing staff need adequate staffing levels so that such situations do not arise. I'd dread to think what would have happened if I'd been an infirm old person who didn't have a loud voice like me. I'm saddened to see the nursing staff bearing the brunt of funding problems as front line staff. I spoke to a nurse about what had happened later on and she said she was very sorry and explained the resourcing problems. She said she would like it if they could look after one bay each (c. 6 patients) so that they had the time to do their jobs better. This made me wonder whether there is any kind of proper consultation with front line staff about how improvements can be made and what they need. After all, who knows better than the staff on the floor? I hope that this kind of consultation does occur and that our wonderful nurses are listened to so that there talent can be fully utilized.

I am personally terrified that quite the opposite is happening due to Andrew Lansley's reforms. I shall be researching this and contacting the relevant parties to add my voice to the cacophony of derision this coalition is already facing. The day we lose the pride of Britain that is our mixed economy of social care and capitalism is the day I will leave the country behind. Blame not the staff who work so hard, but the home wreckers that are destroying our country and making the jobs of the caring profession impossible. In conclusion I received excellent care and I'd like this passed on personally to all the staff on Huntsman 6, who deserve a massive pat on the back (and a massive pay rise). But I think most of all the staff deserve better so that the patients can also receive superior care.

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