"Pretty good, but call button situation..."

About: Colchester General Hospital

What I liked

I was brought into A&E on 21st March with a dislocation and fracture of the ankle (in 3 places). Conservative treatment did not work and I had surgery (ORIF) on 31st March. During the whole stay I was in West Bergholt ward and was the youngest patient by around 30-40 years, the majority being elderly ladies in their 80s, 90s and even one lady of 101.

The care generally was good with one or two nurses and HCAs being simply outstanding. The catering staff were mostly friendly and obliging as were the cleaning staff and the ward and surrounding environs were very clean. The food was adequtae although a touch stodgy at times.

What could be improved

1 or 2 nurses seemed impatient and lacked empathy with the very elderly and seemed to be annoyed by the fact that these elderly patients needed the bedpan or commode more often than they themselves seemed to think was normal. One fellow patient remarked to me "we shouldn't be afraid to ask for a bedpan, but we are."

It often took an inordinate amount of time for anyone to answer a call button; patients often would be told "we'll be there in aminute, we are just doing X" when in fact the reason for 95% of the call button requests was for patients to have a bedpan or commode. It seems to me this should be considered more of a priority that many other tasks (medication perhaps excepting). This was a ward full of elderly ladies who could not get to the loo themselves due to the nature of their injuries and they were often not able to wait. 20 minutes waiting time was normal, on occasion I witnessed patients waiting 40 minutes, by which time they were desperate or on one occasion, had actually wet themself, much to that patient's humiliation.

This simply is not good enough.

Anything else?

I appreciate the staff on West Bergholt were understaffed and as I have said, most were good and one or two were superb. However, the situation regarding the waiting time for a commode or bedpan was simply not acceptable and needs to be addressed.

Story from NHS Choices

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