"Poor attitudes of nursing staff"

About: The Royal London Hospital

(as the patient),

Whilst the new hospital looks lovely, the first ward I was on was clearly short of qualified staff. (It hadn't fully opened) For a while just 1 nurse: 20+ patients. Although I appreciate how demanding & stressful this must have been for this individual, it’s really no excuse for the way the nurse spoke to those under their care. Sadly, I later discovered that rudeness, judgemental & prejudicial attitudes & an overall lack of care was the norm amongst a large proportion of the staff I witnessed tending to inpatients.

It can't be right when it starts to become a pleasant surprise when a member of the staff team shows some care or understanding. It was the (far too few) good nurses that stood out amongst the many staff members that I came across whilst here.

Initially I was told I'd be having a scan on my first night - necessary to confirm/diagnose the condition for which I was being treated. It eventually took place 8 days later. In the meantime, I had to undergo surgery/general anaesthetic to treat/remove an infection I caught whilst on the ward (from a blocked cannula). Due to my history of drug dependency, I was (wrongly) accused of having injected something into the cannula, despite no evidence to suggest that I had, other than the medic's preconceived ideas. The actual problem stemmed from them leaving the device, unused, in my arm for days without checking/removing it.

I was soon moved back to the old hospital (Rachel Ward) where it got worse. There was a clear lack of privacy & appreciation of a patient's right to confidentiality. After seeing me during ward round & leaving my bedside, I could still hear the doctors discussing my health/medication in front of the other patients. Despite my privacy being extremely important to me, due to the poor attitudes of some of the nurses & nursing assistants (directly to me & while talking between themselves [I overheard]), I felt unable to raise any of my concerns for fear of repercussion & exacerbating already apparent prejudices. It's on my medical notes that I have in the past been an IVDU, treated for mental ill health and led a chaotic/homeless lifestyle - but I've moved on. Despite maintaining accommodation and full time employment in this field, it seems like those treating me cannot see past my history.

I started to consider that perhaps I was being over-sensitive due to the level of pain I was in, however my observations were confirmed by other staff members - after surgery I was told that I was on my way back to the worst ward in the hospital. This was reiterated by an agency or locum nurse who was working on the ward. This nurse told me the nurses were generally uncaring, slept on shift during the night & were just as rude to this nurse as they were to the patients.

For me, I'm generally thick-skinned and although upsetting at the time I'm over it, but I would like staff to be trained better on the basic value of respect.

One example of poor patient care that I witnessed that I haven't forgotten, was towards an elderly woman who spent all day & night in bed. Physiotherapists & OT were telling her that she must start pressing her call button & asking the nurses to be supported to walk to the bathroom as she was able to do it & needed to be more active in order to assist her recovery. The poor woman did this only to be told by one nurse "Oh you've got a pad on, just do it in that". Where's her right to dignity?

It's all very well having a brand new hospital, but unfortunately it'll be the same people working there.

Historically I've often been reluctant to seek medical attention when needed & was hesitant to do so on this occasion. My experience of RLH has done nothing to help me overcome my apprehensions regarding this.

Other areas that could be improved are the cleanliness (or lack of) in the toilet facilities. Twice I was unable to use the facilities due both cubicles having dried faeces/urine/blood on the floor/toilet seat. It’s a hospital where people are already physically frail. Hygiene should be amongst the top priorities.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››