"Fawlty Towers reception at 630am"

About: Southmead Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as a relative),

Hello please excuse my spelling mistakes.

What was good: the surgery was second to none, fab surgeon, shame about the wrap arounds.

I took my husband into Southmead hospital at 6:30am on a day in Dec 2010 for a hip replacement operation. It was pitch black so it felt as if it was the middle of the night and we were both anxious, but trying to pretend that we were fine ie putting a brave face on.

We arrived at a tiny reception area along with a lot of other people in similar circumstances. The room was like a corridor. My husband was asked his name and told to sit down and I was ordered out of this very congested area to go to the coffee shop to wait for 2 hours or so.

I was very bewildered and not sure where i would find a coffee at 6:30am in this very large site. I looked confused wandering around and an anaesthetist asked if she could help. We had a laugh at the ridiculous way I and others were treated as if we had checked into Fawlty Towers. This lady said that it was very difficult for her carrying out pre-op assessments, to have patients separated from relatives/friends as some patients would benefit from support eg those with confusion.

I had my coffee and returned to the waiting area. When I got there I couldn't see my husband and I asked where he was. I was told they would get back to me. 30 mins later no update and I asked, they said they would check and yes you have got it: no answer.

So after 75 mins I opened the door of the clinic to find my husband had been told to wait for me and we were sitting back to back on the same wall! I then heard my husband's experience of the assessment, he felt that the lady looking after him could not spell or hear as he had to spell words and names several times.

The op went well, he was up mobilising very quickly.

Breakfast: he had his own museli, which was spilt everywhere as catering assistants not concentrating and talking about East Enders.

Discharge, 48 hours after op: total right hip replacement, with a discharge note reporting he had a left hip and to have an outpatient appointment in April 2011 oh sorry a booklet.

I had had a brief telephone call a few weeks earlier with an OT assistant asking me to measure up for seat raisers and toilet seats: DIY Rehab!

Guess what? He was readmitted a few days later with ?DVT, i think it was over exercising as he was told he could walk, so walk and walk he did, which created an internal haematoma.

Went to GP a week post-op, who was concerned but could not access a scan for several days due to bank holidays, so prescribed anti-coagulant injection. He felt worse so went back to the ward and was readmitted etc.

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Response from Steven Sykes, Advice & Complaints Team Manager, North Bristol NHS Trust

Dear elizabethe – please accept my apologies for not replying to you before now. The Hospital Trust only implemented the facility to respond to postings on the Patient Opinion Web Site a few months ago. We took the decision once we had this access not to try and retrospectively reply to postings made more than 2 months earlier. However having received your specific request, via the Website Manager I am very happy to respond as far as I am able without the full patient details.

Thank you for taking the time and trouble post your comments. I very much regret that the experience of you and your husband was so poor. It is not acceptable that the communication was deficient on all the levels you describe, and basic customer service in respect of information about facilities for coffee etc. was not provided. The particular pre-operative admissions unit has moved and I understand is now managed by a different team within an improved environment. I am assured that the individual concerns you detail have been addressed to improve both the patient and relatives experience.

I apologise that your husband had his muesli spilled. A recent initiative to monitor and improve patient care has been introduced to all wards using the “Nursing Quality Assessment Tool”. This involves independently assessing all wards a regular basis and then monitoring them to ensure identified areas for improvement are implemented. Additionally patients are also encouraged to complete Ward Feedback Cards to help us improve the patient experience wherever possible.

As regards the “DIY rehab” issue I am afraid that like all areas the NHS has to be as efficient as possible in the way we deliver services, and I regret that this does mean on occasions relatives are asked to assist with provision of some care related information.

Unfortunately I cannot comment on your husband’s specific medical condition, or care, due in part to the time that has elapsed and because I lack specific patient details. With current postings I am always happy to receive additional details and undertake further investigation, but as the length of time increases this becomes more difficult, because of staff movements etc. However, if you would like to contact me via the complaints@nbt.nhs.uk link I am happy to discuss this option.

Once again I regret the service you received fell well below that we would wish for our patients and their relatives. I hope that if you have occasion to use any of our services again you recognise the improvements which have been made.

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Update posted by elizabethe (a relative)

Hello, thank you for your reply.