"The post-surgical care was a nightmare."

About: St Mary's Hospital (London)

What I liked

The manager who dealt with my tooth that got broken by the anaesthetist was wonderful, helpful and kind.

What could be improved

The post-surgical care on the gynaecology ward was awful. The nurse assigned to me was rude and uncaring. I'd been nil by mouth all day but no food was offered. I was told to wait until dinner time. I had to insist that a sandwich and coffee be brought. She failed to notice my drip was blocked for three hours and in spite of my pain and dehydration refused to change it. "Drink water" she barked. I heard her hooting with laughter as I protested. I was so dehydrated my mouth had stuck together. Eventually I was comfortable enough to go to sleep and imagined that my ordeal was over. I woke up in the middle of the night in agony. My catheter valve had been closed off so it couldn't drain into the bag. The upper chamber was full and everything was backing up into me. It was excruciating. The night nurse came and opened the valve so it would drain and the pain began to go. The bed was filthy, full of blood and when I asked to for soap and water to clean myself it was refused. Again, I had to insist. The next day I went home but felt worse day by day. I was finally diagnosed with a kidney infection. I was treated by my GP but rang the hospital to report the infection to the specialist nurse. When I came for my follow-up appointment two months later nothing about the catheter error or the infection had been recorded in my notes. I discovered I had been given a shot of antibiotic in the op but no follow-up tablets. Had they done so my kidney infection would have been cleared up much sooner. I am temporarily disabled as the different antibiotics I was eventually given by my own GP have had devastating side effects. If the team at St Mary's had done their jobs properly this would never have had to happen.The domino effect of the appalling post-surgical care goes on even now, six months later. But the experience of being there, the humiliation, the pain, the dirt and the brutish atmosphere will stay with me a long time.

Anything else?

I only had one follow-up appointment. As I have already mentioned the accident and the infection had not been recorded on my notes. Additionally I did not get to speak to the surgeon who'd performed the operation either before, after or at the follow-up appointment two months later. When I complained about this to reception - the fact that I couldn't get to speak to the surgeon at any point about the op, and that after everything that had happened to me I would advise any woman in the waiting room to go elsewhere for their treatment - the specialist nurse flew into a rage, told me my comments were "inappopriate" and stormed off into her office slamming the door with great violence. Shocked I went to sit down to wait to see the consultant on duty. Ten minutes later, as I sat reading, a nurse I'd never met before arrived with two security guards. One of them stood there shouting at me about "zero tolerance" and "harassment". I told him I'd harassed nobody and that it was perfectly legitimate to warn people about what had happened to me. He yelled at me for several minutes, saying that anybody who recorded conversations (I was recording it all on my mobile phone) was "trouble". I sat there politely refuting his out of control accusations and eventually he went away. The consultant I saw was great, very sympathetic, and apologised for what I'd been through. Another good person was a manager who helped with the dental arrangements as a tooth had been broken in three places during the op. But apart from those two people, I found the staff largely unprofessional, uncaring, unskilled and at times dangerous and thuggish. They are representative of the kind of conduct that has dragged the reputation of the NHS down so much in recent years. The operation was partially successful but the physical damage I've sustained from the post-surgical shambles far outweighs the good of the op.

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Response from St Mary's Hospital

Thank you for taking the time to post your comments. Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is very disappointed to hear of your experience at St Mary's. This is not the experience that we aim to provide and you raise some very serious issues. It would be important to be able to investigate and respond to the specific issues you have raised with regard to your care. Please contact our Patient Advice & Liaison Service on 020 3312 7777 or email pals@imperial.nhs.uk

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