Around 10.30am on Thursday 7th July I passed out for 2 minutes soon after my morning carers had put me in my wheelchair. They phoned for an ambulance which arrived promptly. I arrived at the hospital at 12 noon. The ambulance crew stayed with me in the ambulance in the car park until I was admitted inside at 4pm (!)
Almost all of the time I was left with the alarm to call for help out of reach. I asked a passing doctor to ask a nurse to come: she said nothing but dangled her alarm at me, not realising that I am paralysed and so could not reach mine.
Some nurses were courteous and worked hard to provide the best care they could; but they were in a minority. Most were evasive, abrupt and obstructive. The senior sister in charge of the group on Friday night appeared to be well aware of this. I explained to her that a nurse I had asked for help half an hour earlier had gone away and failed to return: she politely assured me that the nurse would return within a few minutes. She did - and gave me service with a scowl.
I was in hospital for low blood pressure. This was checked at intervals of 2 or 3 hours. I asked what the readings were: each time I was ignored. Nurses looked at me as though I was asking for State secrets and rushed away. If it was against the hospital rules, why did they not say so? Why were they instructed not to divulge such information? On two occasions I saw the readings on the monitor: 150/79 and 133/78 don't look low to me.
A doctor talked with me about release on Thursday evening but I was later refused because it was left too late for my evening carers who go off duty at 10pm. A doctor came to see me at 8am on Friday morning and told me he would try to arrange my return in time for my 10am carers. About 1pm a nurse told me he had not written the discharge papers. A nurse worked hard to inform my care agency and district nurses of my return and to arrange transport home. An ambulance arrived at 5.10pm. The crew did well to deliver me and two other patients to our homes by 6.15pm. Unfortunately, the nursing care arranged for the following day (Saturday) did not arrive. The surgery from which the nurses work had been informed but had not passed the information on to the nurses. On a regular Sunday visit, the two nurses did not know that I had been in hospital.
We are often told how wasteful of NHS resources it is to miss an appointment. How much does it cost to keep a patient in an ambulance in a car park for most of the afternoon? Or keep a patient in hospital for so long after it had been established that there is nothing wrong? Why was information about my blood pressure withheld from me? When I was discharged I was given an (edited?) copy of a letter to my general practitioner. The section on observations omitted blood pressure readings - very strange for a patient who had been admitted for low blood pressure.
It is not uncommon to read stories in the newspapers about hospital staff be in abused verbally or even physically by patients for being ignored, treated as dupes or lied to. Some of the staff I met during my visit made me appreciate why this happens. The senior sister, a few of the nurses and the ambulance crews stood out as heroic exceptions trying to operate a system which is too complicated, prone to failure and consequently wasteful.
A short stay in hospital - but not short enough
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