"Surgical excellent - nursing/A&E appalling"

About: St George's Hospital (Tooting) (London)

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It was admitted to St George's via my GP sending me to A&E - I was extremely glad she had contacted them in advance otherwise the wait could have proved lethal. I was later diagnosed with a virulent Strep A bacterial infection in my leg.

The A&E were kind, attentive - and didn't seem to have a clue what they were looking at. Seeing the fear on your attending doctor's face is pretty terrifying.

I remained in A&E whilst two doctors tried (it turns out, erroneously) to take a sample from the joint of my knee, for about an hour - effectively (needlessly) putting me in considerable pain whilst trying to insert a large needle into my knee joint. Finally they called the Registrar who obtain a sample with no pain in a matter of minutes.

During my time in A&E - 12-14 hours, I had to use disgusting toilets, walls smeared with blood or maybe faeces and be housed next to a patient bought in by prison warders. Nothing wrong with that except he sounded schizophrenic and dangerous.

I was then moved to a children's ward for a few hours, before being taken to a ward.

The incision and drain op was then organised quickly and efficiently. The surgical staff were excellent and reassuring in follow up. Despite a poor overall experience over all, I must stress that these medical staff probably saved my leg, if not my life.

The over-riding memory however was of the appalling nursing staff on the ward. My first night I was shouted at by the night nurse for asking for water, then asking her to turn the light off. I proceeded to see nursing staff lying down on beds, complaining about pay and treating elderly patients like dirt. They talked through the night and did not turn lights off. The mixed sex ward denied many their dignity.

Being much younger than many other patients I complained about the level of care to the staff nurse - I later heard him reprimand the staff. I'm glad he did, but I thought this unprofessional, to do so in the earshot of patients.

During my recovery I had to self diagnose that an antibiotic 'bolus' being delivered via my drip was causing extreme kidney pain and anxiety. A night doctor dismissed my initial complaints rudely talking about me on her way out as if I wasn't there. No one looked at possible causes or sought to provide reassurance. Later when discussing it with the staff nurse it became clear the bolus delivery was a probable culprit and the treatment reverted to drip delivery.

On a separate occasion saline was spilt on the bed, wetting the sheets. After waiting almost an hour for someone to change the sheets (new ones had been left), I got up (still on drip) and started doing it myself.

My experience at St George's was an eye opener, saddening and sickening. Afterwards I took out private medical cover - I would have feared to have left an elderly relative there. I hope it's changed.

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