"The lack of proper management oversight was very..."

About: Luton & Dunstable Hospital

What I liked

Some of the senior nurses were friendly and courteous.

What could be improved

Health Care Assistants need to understand they are not medical professionals and should defer to nurses and doctors, not make judgements by themselves.

The ward did not appear clean. It also was very dingy and tired looking.

Restrictions on visitor numbers and hours were not enforced and quite obviously abused.

Other patients and their guests were extremely inconsiderate and the staff did nothing to curb their behaviour.

Anything else?

The main issues I faced were:

a) When my daughter was born (by c-section) she was struggling to breathe and was taken over to the resus station. When the nurse went to attach the monitor she found the oxygen saturation lead was for an adult. She then had to go locate the correct lead. I fail to understand why this happened - the station was for neo-natals not adults.

b) After she stabilised they took her down to NICU. An x-ray showed a patch in her lung so they wanted to give IV anti-biotics. It took 40 minutes for them to get the canular in. During this time they tried every limb, leaving multiple wounds and bruises. My baby was extremely distressed by this. In the end I had to insist that another doctor attempt the procedure.

c) After leaving NICU and being admitted to the ward I found the health care assistants were extremely hostile to me. My wife was immobile due to the surgery and depended on me to help out. However I was routinely ignored, shouted out when asking for the parking form and I felt they were not properly managed.

d) On the second day I smelt something funny on the bed and I noticed a wet patch. It smelled of the antibiotic they were administering to the baby. I checked her leg (where the canular was located) and noticed the bandage was wet as well. This meant that the drug either was not inserted into the canular or the canular had come loose). I raised this with several people who each chose to ignore me or tell me I didn't know what I was talking about. The drugs continued to be administered and therefore soaked up by the bandage or the bed.

In the end we alerted the paediatrician who agreed that it was leaking (on the 4th day). Luckily tests showed no infection was present, so no real harm was done.

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Response from Luton & Dunstable Hospital

We are very sorry that the stay in maternity was not as good as you’d hoped. The maternity care assistants are all aware of the remit of their role and some have received training in some aspects of care to enable them to make decisions. I am disappointed you felt the ward was not clean - the ward managers do regular walkrounds and audits with the domestic services and action any concerns.

Regarding your concerns about visiting restrictions not being enforced - this is a challenge for staff as people, as you correctly say, abuse it and it is difficult for staff to monitor it at all times although they do try very hard.

It would be difficult for us to respond to the issues raised for NICU without patient details. However it can be extremely difficult to get intravenous lines into newborn babies and although we always try to limit attempts at cannulation, and distress to the baby and family, there is no alternative. From what you have told us the treatment was clinically needed but we do understand that this doesn’t stop the experience being traumatic for the parent to watch.

We would be happy to speak with you regarding the issues raised. Please contact the Complaints Officer via email at: complaints.officer@ldh.nhs.uk or telephone the hospital on 0845 1270127 and ask for the Complaints Department.

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