"Hugely disappointed with our insensitive treatment by Guys and Thomas' Hospital"

About: Barnet Hospital / Cardiology St Thomas' Hospital / Respiratory medicine (Lane Fox Unit)

(as a relative),

My mother, in her mid seventies, living in Temple Fortune, London was admitted to Barnet General Hospital after becoming acutely unwell and confused at home. (Her previous medical history included a THR after NOF fracture some years earlier and Hypertension. However over last few months before admission she was complaining of fatigue, weakness and had needed to use wheelchair on and off more long distance travel- initially refusing to see GP who she had found unsympathetic in past - I then forced her to go with me to see GP - and so being investigated by GP before admission.)

She was admitted to MAU and overnight developed Type 2 respiratory failure (high CO2). She was admitted to ITU the next morning where she remained for many weeks treated very well by all staff there.

Unfortunately no conclusive reason was found for her high CO2. The intensivists were unable to wean her off the ventilator for weeks despite trying all strategies including BiPAP.

She was then referred to the Respiratory Unit Lane Fox Unit for her Chronic respiratory failure. She was there a couple of weeks and the doctors were optimistic of her prognosis and predicted that she would hopefully be discharged in a couple of weeks. However she suddenly developed SOB and acute cardiac failure (as stated by the Med Reg who ran the arrest) and died in September 2010. She had been under intensive care for nearly 9 weeks and no diagnosis was made! We as a family asked for no PM to be carried out for religious reasons, but the doctors rejected our request. PM showed exactly what the medical registrar had found.

We made a formal complaint to the hospital during our bereavement time but the answer we got was at best offhand, with no clear answers to our complaints. At the end of the letter the Guys and St Thomas's Trust said that if we had any further issues we should take them to the Omsbudman!

I work for the NHS and I personally found this letter callous and insensitive. It was also not addressing any of the queries we had raised. The letter was based on the comments of a junior registrar - not the consultant who had been involved in my mother's care. The issue of how fruitless and inadequate PMs are in the context of finding cause of death for long term hospitalised patients was not even touched upon.

The whole episode left me feeling hurt and helpless and the pain is still raw.

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