"Poor handling of communications during norovirus..."

About: Alexandra Hospital

What I liked

Not sure there is anything at the moment as feeling tired, weary, frustrated and worried.

What could be improved

Communication with families of patients during norovirus outbreak has been non-existent. Not being able to see patients puts an extra strain on the next of kin and will have a negative impact upon the health of some of the patients. This could be alleviated if communication was improved. Being able to speak with a doctor is as rare as finding hens' teeth. Stress levels rise, nurses are unable to answer basic questions, x-rays are cancelled (although not sure what it was for in the first place), cardiology results still not given around a week after being seen by the specialist. Is the cancer spreading? It's a natural worry and there are no systems in place to prevent worries escalating at a time like this.

There is a poster in the reception about dignity and respect and liaising with patients' families - remove it as it obviously holds no value. We have tried five times over two days to speak with a doctor on the phone - we do not want to visit the hospital where our next of kin is but will remain unseen and still have the pleasure of paying £3 - surely in the 21st century this is not beyond the scope of the medical profession? We were even told that the doctor we had been told was responsible for our next of kin did not exist! How does this happen?

I have gained the impression, from visiting many hospitals over the past year or two, that they all suffer the same poor communications, which cause anger, frustration, concern and fear; improving communications is not rocket science, it doesn't cost an expensive piece of equipment, lots of trained staff or a new wing; it means someone with some empathy, an ability to take messages and relay information back doing a valuable, currently ignored, job.

This is not the first outbreak of the norovirus at The Alex - you would have thought these communication problems would have been previously identified and systems put in place for recurring situations. Obviously not.

Anything else?

Outbreaks of norovirus and similar will continue - this is another issue entirely but when it happens, please increase accessibility to doctors and nurses (who have knowledge of the patients). Call back when you say you will. Have someone take responsibility for taking messages and don't make it the patients' relatives responsibility to keep telephoning, fruitlessly.

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Responses

Response from Alexandra Hospital

Thank you for raising your concerns. We are always striving to make improvements to the care we deliver and value your comments. Matron Rutter would like to apologise that you have not been able to communicate effectively - especially with the medical staff. Could you please contact Matron Rutter on 01527 503030 who will ensure that this is arranged as soon as possible. Nursing staff are aware that they need to ensure that relatives are kept informed - especially during an outbreak. Matron Rutter will also be liaising with the medical staff and the ward staff to ensure that this does not happen again.

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