"Lack of information and broken promises"

About: Milton Keynes Hospital / General surgery

(as the patient),

In recent times I’ve tried to ignore the stories I hear about how bad Milton Keynes hospital is. I’ve been encouraged by reports that changes for the better have been made, and maybe they have. Recently however, I had the ‘opportunity’ to experience the place for myself as a patient and in the textspeak du jour all I can say is, OMG!

On a recent Thursday I began experiencing stomach pains which by Saturday had become unbearable so after calling my doctor’s surgery was advised to go to the Walk In Centre at the hospital. After spending two hours there they sent me to the Surgical Assessment Unit (SAU) on the first floor of the hospital. Almost the first thing I was told was that I shouldn’t have become ill on a weekend, and especially not on a bank holiday weekend – which it was.

I waited a further ten hours to see a doctor and have some simple blood texts, before being admitted, given some IV antibiotics and oral painkillers and left to my own devices with no information in a largely unmade bed. The only greeting was from other patients.

In the morning I received more antibiotics, an x-ray which they then lost (yes, really) for several hours, a further x-ray and then nothing. The following morning (Sunday) I finally received a visit from a lady consultant (apparently I’d been put under her ‘Breast Team’ – yes really) who told me I would get a CT scan that morning. I didn’t.

Her junior, after complaining about their boss loudly to anyone who’d listen and after several hours of very hard pushing from me, finally organised the only CT scan of the day, into which session they also slotted an urgent female patient from casualty. The story the whole time was ‘It’s a weekend. It’s a bank holiday weekend. What do you expect?’ Well actually I expect the NHS to deliver healthcare. Tesco’s was open. Why not the hospital?

Finally I was allowed to eat. However the food is the most unhealthy, unappetising and poorest quality imaginable. When they did succumb to an attempt at healthiness, for instance with a token piece of fruit, the pear I received was an inedible rock.

I was constantly moved, not spending one night out of the three I spent in hell, in a single location. Eventually I found myself in Ward 20, whose staff seemed to specialise in criticising the methods and knowledge of the SAU ward staff. Minutes after my arrival in the ward, I witnessed a larger elderly gentlemen sitting in a chair by his bed wearing two inadequately small hospital gowns, one behind like a coat, one in front providing modesty.

He was asked to remove these for the laundry and was helped to strip. He had no underwear. He was then unceremoniously handed folded clean ones which he then had to change into, in full view of everyone coming and going on the ward, without any assistance. His curtains were not pulled, something he clearly couldn’t do himself. Where is the simple dignity?

On another occasion I saw a nursing assistant helping to feed a man who never left his bed the entire time I was there. The assistant sneezed voluminously over the food, making no effort to cover their mouth, and simply kept feeding it to the patient. I gagged. I suspect inwardly the patient did too.

On the Monday night at about 7pm a fellow patient, presumably just fitted with a body waste bag, had a nasty accident in the only male shower room on the ward. He was forced to beg for some clean gowns and was clearly deeply embarrassed. The nursing staff went into the shower room with much tutting and sucking of teeth and placed some absorbent sheets of a disposable nature over the nine or so square feet of highly offensive poo slick and simply left it there to fester. It was still there in the morning at 7am, some twelve hours later, when I went in to use the shower. I pointed this out to a nurse from the morning shift who was highly critical of her ‘lazy’ colleagues.

I was invited to use the ladies shower room which unlike all the gents I’d sampled in my travels has a sink plug so you can shave properly (although the mirror is on the opposite wall), has cold water for brushing your teeth and a shower which actually has a decent flow. Lucky ladies. Go breast team!

Finally I, in concert with another patient also desperate to go, was forced to tell the staff that I was a very reluctant bed blocker and must be released or I would walk. I didn’t even have to take out of my arm the final and seventh version of the endlessly leaking and self-ejecting canulas, as it fell out by itself like all its predecessors. As I write, I look like a bruised pin cushion. They issued oral antibiotics and let me go. You will be pleased to hear that I survived MK hospital. You might not however, and sadly a body was removed from my ward while I was there.

In my time there I never received any kind of ‘orientation’, any information or even a printed sheet with details of where the emergency button was or how to use it, or even where the toilets were, or visiting hours which change ward to ward or what to expect or when. Since staff I met never volunteered any information about my treatment I took to questioning them, when I could find anyone to give me eye contact, and this is how I discovered that, when pushed for an answer some people blatantly lie. Sorry, but that was my overwhelming experience of the staff interactions.

I have really only touched the surface of the lack of information, constantly broken promises, poor treatment, contempt of patients and in-house petty rivalries and turf wars I witnessed in my four days of hell at MK hospital. And yes there are good people working there, but in my view they are swimming against a very strong tide.

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