"Poor care of my elderly, very poorly, father"

About: South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust St Peter's Hospital / Accident and emergency St Peter's Hospital / Older people's healthcare

(as a relative),

My story started almost two weeks ago. I took my father to A&E at St Peters on a Monday afternoon. He had completely lost the use of his legs due to complete weakness.

We arrived and had to have assistance to help him into a wheelchair. He was eventually triaged and then transferred into a cubicle. After several hours he was seen by a doctor. He was told he would stay overnight and was discharged the next day with a prescription for antibiotics.

His condition worsened and I telephoned for a doctor several times to no avail. Seven days later he fell and was again taken to A&E where he was observed for a few hours, the consultant in charge insisted that his infection had cleared up and discharged him. They were unaware that I was actually at the hospital and had booked for transport home, despite me telling them on numerous occasions that he lived alone.

The consultant made the decision to discharge without taking any further x-rays of his chest, blood tests or urine tests. I stood there and asked him if he would take tests to see if his chest infections had indeed cleared and he said there was no need, he knew it had. Two days later, another fall and once again taken to A&E by ambulance where he was eventually admitted for more observation.

Within hours of being admitted his condition worsened to such a level he was completely delirious and remains so three days later. He still has not seen the consultant that is supposed to be deciding on his treatment or diagnosis. I too noticed during our time in A&E there were staff that were standing around seemingly with nothing to do, not just a few of them but a lot.

There was one member of staff that stood around and did not appear to have a clue about patient treatment. He did not seem to liaise with any other staff and just kept asking me questions about my father's condition and treatment but rather disturbingly didn't understand what I was saying, but insisted that I tell him as he was 'in charge' of my father's care. When I asked him what he was planning to do in that capacity he walked away. He did nothing for my father or any other patient as far as I could see, but just wandered up and down the cubicles.

I have found it very difficult to speak to anyone that appears to know, or is able to, retain any information written down or spoken to them about my father's previous or current condition. Indeed when telephoned today we were told that he had been moved to another room, only to find when we arrived that he was in the same place. I can only assume the person on the telephone was talking about the wrong patient.

I am furious that an elderly gentlemen suffering with pneumonia and other infections was almost sent home on no less than three occasions in a week. I am disgusted that there are so many staff standing around that appear indifferent to what is going on around them and are, most certainly, not busy. I have today rescued another patient from falling out of a chair whilst there were many members of the nursing team sat at the main desk. I have witnessed elderly patients being ignored when calling out. Today a patient was assisted to the toilet and promptly forgotten about for almost an hour.

I am also afraid to complain or make a fuss at the actual ward where my father is currently for fear it might affect the treatment he is receiving.

This is truly a horrific experience and I am afraid to leave at the end of each day.

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Responses

Response from Giselle Rothwell, Head of Media and Communications, Ashford and St. Peter's Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

We are very concerned to hear about you and your father’s experience at St Peter’s Hospital and are very sorry for the obvious distress this is causing.

I would like to personally reassure you that no complaint or concern from a patient or family member would ever compromise the care you receive at our hospital, and I would urge you to speak to the ward sister or matron in the area where your father is staying as soon as possible.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, or require support to do so, please contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service on 01932 723553 or alternatively contact me directly.

It’s difficult for me to comment specifically on the circumstances you describe without understanding the detail but anything that falls short of the high standards of care we expect from our staff is not satisfactory. We are always ready to listen to any concerns patients or their family members may have and will always do our best to respond as soon as we possibly can.

We look forward to hearing from you very soon.

Suzanne Rankin, Chief Nurse

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