"Nobody available to tell us what is going on"

About: The Great Western Hospital / Urology

(as a relative),

My elderly father and mother have had such difficulty in dealing with this hospital. The service is awful, cleanliness and hygiene is poor, patient care seems nearly non existent and patients are always kept in the dark and waiting for hours on end.

My father was taken ill into GWH a number of weeks ago, the nurses seemed incapable of performing routine tasks such as taking blood and putting a catheter in. They seem to use people as pin-cushions here way before getting someone to perform a procedure that is capable.

Worse than this, my father had kidney issues and was in the urology department (the one we have had all of the issues with). Part of the process is keeping a high, but steady fluid intake into each patient and monitoring this. On several occasions I had to walk around the ward trying to find someone to bring him water after asking many times. A simple requirement like this turned into a very long winded process and on one occasion took over two hours to get a jug of water for him.

The nurses and doctors were also using a sink in the ward (Ampney ward) that had no soap, they were simply washing with water after examining patients and performing procedures. After telling them on several occasions there was no anti-bacterial hand wash, they listened and put some in, but this took THREE days. Nobody that I saw in this time used the solution at the end of each bed to kill bacteria or germs. On another occasion, a sterile carton was opened, then left on a dirty window sill with an open window for over 30 minutes before the doctor returned and then went to use the implements on my father – he was surprised when we refused.

Procedures and timing is always late, and we aren’t talking the odd hour, we are talking hours upon hours, sometimes an entire day. In this time, it seems impossible to get any answers from the staff – the doctors or people that are in the ‘know’ are never available.

Trying to talk to anyone also seems impossible. Secretaries and administrative staff seem to go home as early as 3:30, if you try to talk to somebody on the phone to resolve an issue they simply transfer you all around until you either have a phone ringing off the hook or an answer phone.

My father went back into hospital for an operation today, they made him get changed into a gown and wait in the normal outpatient area for six hours – three hours passed the appointment, during this time no one as normal seemed to know what was going on and simply told my parents to wait for the doctor. At 17:30 staff packed up and went home, they told my father to get dressed and go home as they couldn’t do it now.

Upon complaining they were told they would just have to sit around and wait to speak to the doctor with no indication again of how long he would be, then staff proceeded to go home.

I called the hospital to ask what was going on after my mother called me upset (they were very worried about the operation as it was, and now had yet again been messed around). The switchboard put me through incorrectly to the booking centre, then I went back to the switch board, then they transferred me to the ward which rang off the hook. Then they told me the staff in that ward had gone home earlier, they transferred me to another ward incorrectly who couldn’t help (but I was told they could), I then went back to the switchboard after complaining they said there was nothing they could do and transferred me to the customer liaison team who go home at 4:30.

Honestly, this is pathetic. I get the feeling the only way someone gets any treatment or service is if they are dying and turn up in an ambulance.

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Response from Kevin McNamara, Director of Communications, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for taking the time to raise these concerns. I am sorry that your parents have had a poor experience with us and it’s something that I am keen to put right for you.

On receiving your message, I have raised these concerns with the Matron in Charge of Urology and Ampney Ward. She is keen to talk to you to go through your issues one by one to try to resolve them and to get further detail so we can put things right for your Father.

Clearly any delay or cancellation of an operation can cause unnecessary distress and anxiety for patients who have prepared themselves mentally for the operation to take place. It is something we work hard to avoid. Where operations are cancelled at short notice, as sometimes it is unavoidable, it is essential staff keep patients and relatives informed of the reasons why and the next steps we will take and I apologise on behalf of the Trust that this did not happen.

I have also passed the points you have made to our Chief and Deputy Chief Nurses as they are particularly focussed on nursing standards.

Please email me at: comms@gwh.nhs.uk with your name, contact details and a preferred time to contact you and I will make sure the Matron gets in touch so that you have the opportunity to discuss the issues in more detail.

With regards to the issue you have raised about cleanliness I have raised the issue with our cleaning provider to ask them to ensure standards are maintained. We currently carry out regular inspections of ward areas so that issues can be identified and swiftly addressed.

Our Patient Advice and Liaison Service is also available to help should any patients need advice and support. They are open Monday to Friday from 08.30am to 5pm and are contactable on 01793 604031. Out of hours members of the public can leave a message and the call will be returned then next working day.

Please do get in touch with your contact details and we will be able to help further.

Kevin McNamara

Great Western Hospitals NHS FT

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Response from The Great Western Hospital

Thank you for your comments. We’re really sorry to hear that the level of care and service we offered to you and your parents fell short of your expectations. I’ll make sure that the Matron responsible for Ampney ward is made aware of your concerns so that they can learn from your experience and address the issues you raise. On the infection control point you raise, we have worked hard to improve hygiene standards over recent years, which has resulted in a 75% reduction in MRSA and a 90% reduction in Clostridium difficile cases. We are not complacent and take any potential lapses in hygiene very seriously and I’ll be passing your comments over to our infection control team. We always want to know about the areas where we can improve and would welcome the opportunity to investigate your concerns in more detail. If you’d like to talk to us further about your experiences, then please contact our Customer Service team on 01793 604031 (8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday) or by email at pals.team@gwh.nhs.uk

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