6 April 2010

The UK's Caring Hospitals

There’s a story doing the rounds just now about a hospital switchboard getting a call asking about the health of a patient – a Mrs Jones. ‘Are you a relative?’ asked the operator. ‘Oh yes, we’re very ,very close’, said the caller who was then put through to the ward where the patient was being treated. Once the ward nurse had again established that the caller was a relative (how can they tell?), she proceeded to give the caller a full account of the patient’s treatment and finished with a positive prognosis saying that Mrs Jones would make a full recovery. ‘Thank goodness for that’, said the caller. ‘Can I ask who’s calling so I can pass on a message’ asked the nurse. ‘Oh it’s Mrs Jones in Room 11 of your ward – no bugger has been telling me anything but now I’ve found out – thanks for the information.’

Think it’s a joke? Not on your life. The following report was in the news last week:

“A nurse has been sacked after a dying patient was forced to phone the switchboard of the hospital he was in to beg for water, it has been claimed. Derek Sauter, 60, was left unmonitored for 11 hours at a hospital in Sidcup and used his mobile phone to call for help. The grandfather, who had a chest infection, died eight hours later of pneumonia.”

I know that the UK health service gets a bad press but that latter story is a real indictment of the lack of care some patients receive.

Fortunately, I have not been in a UK hospital since I was a boy but several episodes recently have led me to believe that all is not well, if you’ll forgive the pun.

Firstly, my mate Alan went into hospital a few years ago for a simple hernia operation. He did not survive. Word was that the surgeon nicked his bowel and Alan died of septicemia.

Much more recently we’ve witnessed, or rather J has, the treatment given to her mother and stepfather, both who were very ill and neither of whom survived.

Firstly her mother who suffered from diabetes went into hospital with a complaint and initially the staff treated her very well but as time passed, the treatment deteriorated to the point where J and her sister had to check up that Kath was getting her medication and her meals on a daily basis. Leaving her food and medication just out of reach for a woman who could hardly move was a common complaint and leaving her in soiled sheets was another unforgiveable sin on the part of the nursing staff.

A few months later, Freddi, J’s stepfather who was 92, also entered hospital with a series of complaints (basically his body was giving out) and although, on the face of it, his treatment was ok, when he returned to his nursing home the staff discovered his body covered in bed sores – a clear indication of a lack of nursing care. Just as the home were discussing with the family about making a formal complaint to the hospital, poor Freddi died.

Now I know that we’ve all got stories about the UK Health Service (oxymoron ???), but to have three close relatives/friends enter hospital and suffer what appears to be very poor care just seems a bit too indicative (of lack of care) to be a coincidence.

As some of you may know, my close mate Brian, who was in a serious car accident a few months ago, is still in hospital and it looks like he’ll be there for another couple of months at least. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that he’ll get better care. It seems to me, and this is a good sign for Brian, that if you’re young enough to understand what’s going on and can complain then you’ll be ok. If you’re old and infirm, you’re in the hands of God, sometimes literally!

No comments: