"St Thomas' has restored my faith in the NHS."

About: St Thomas' Hospital (London)

What I liked

I was admitted for a mastectomy and DIEP reconstruction following diagnosis with breast cancer, and, with one minor exception, was treated with the utmost dignity, respect, and most importantly, kindness, by everyone, including the surgeons, anaesthetists, nursing staff, physiotherapists, and all the other staff who keep the hospital running so smoothly. I was in Adam Apley ward for six days, and the treatment I received has completely restored my faith in the NHS. I really didn't think that such caring nursing staff still existed, and nothing was too much trouble. The anaesthetist and two of the surgical team spent some time with me immediately before the operation, and explained the procedure carefully, and did everything they could to reassure me. One of the surgeons was with me when I woke up in recovery; he again spent some time with me, and then called my husband to explain at length the outcome of the operation. When I was taken to the ward, I had a nurse with me throughout the night, monitoring my new breast and stomach wound, and I think she was probably the kindest and most thoughtful person I have ever come across. Every member of the nursing staff was quite exceptional, and did everything they could to help my recovery. The ward was kept spotlessly clean by very friendly and kind staff, and it was so nice to have fresh laundered cotton sheets every day. The food was generally very good, with plenty of choice. I was seen by doctors at least twice every day, and they were all extremely approachable, patient, and quick to answer any questions I raised.

What could be improved

I feel that more care should be taken in the selection of the staff who book patients in for surgery. Whilst I cannot speak highly enough of everyone involved in my care AFTER I had been booked into the SAL, the attitude of the nurse who booked me in was completely unacceptable. The nurse was extremely rude, to the point of being aggressive, sneezed continually and didn't then clean their hands, and moaned about how unwell they felt. The nurse was also extremely difficult to understand, partly because they had a very strong accent, but also because they were muttering to themselves for most of the time with me, and it was hard to know whether the nurse was talking to me or not. When you are facing the stress of a nine hour operation and about to lose a breast, I was not expecting to have to cope with someone like this. The nurse tried unsuccessfully to take blood samples from my arm, got angry when they failed, and then said that the surgeons would have to sort it out in theatre. This was all made so much worse by the fact that I was told my husband could not come in with me whilst I was being booked in because 'the room was too small'. Needless to say, the nurse reduced me to tears. As soon as the plastic surgeon arrived to see me, he was surprised that my husband was not there, and went to get him. It was interesting to note that at one time, my husband, me, two surgeons, and an anaesthetist were present in the room, which was supposedly too small for me, my husband and the nurse!

It seems that my treatment by this nurse was not an isolated incident, as two of the other women on my ward who were admitted just before and just after me also told me that they had had a very bad experience with what sounded like the same nurse when they were admitted to the SAL.

Anything else?

Apart from the one member of staff in the SAL, I could not have had a more positive experience of St Thomas', and am extremely grateful to everyone involved in my care.

The hospital is very conveniently located for transport links for visitors. The car park was reasonably priced, and my husband was always able to find a parking space. The views from the ward were an added bonus!

Story from NHS Choices

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