The uncaring NHS

  johndrew 11:08 25 Jul 09
Locked

A good friend of ours was recently admitted to hospital as a result of complications. She is 84 years old and beat throat cancer 10 years ago; unfortunately this left her with no taste or smell and because of damage she cannot swallow `normal` food as she can`t produce saliva.

This latter information was given to the hospital staff who advised her that a dietitian would come to see her - this never happened.

Food is ordered in written form a day before it is due. Our friend examined the menu but there was nothing she would be able to swallow and advised the staff who again advised that a dietitian would see her - again this never happened. Come the following day everyone gets food except our friend who is told that because she didn`t fill the form out she doesn`t get any.

Fortunately one young girl heard this (not a nurse, a helper) and asked what the problem was. Our friend explained and the helper went to the kitchen, got some food and liquidised it for her. She appologised that it didn`t look very appetising but said it was the best she could do. Thereafter the young helper wasn`t around and our friend was forced to exist on a small portion of mashed potato and some gravy each day for the remainder of her stay.

So much for care in the NHS and an explanation why some patients die of starvation in hospital.

  JanetO 11:29 25 Jul 09

My late mother-in-law was hospitalised in Liverpool a few years ago. We couldn't visit every day due to the distance, but whenever we did we found she wasn't being fed by the nurses. They'd leave her tray of food, then collect the untouched food later thinking she wasn't hungry. In fact she was unable to feed herself. Much complaining later the problem was resolved. But without our intervention she could have starved to death.

I think it's called stupidity (or lack of nouse or training).

  Forum Editor 11:52 25 Jul 09

I got chatting to a nurse when my wife had a couple of nights in hospital recently, and she said it's a nightmare having visitors milling around a ward at mealtimes. She said they (the visitors) sometimes demand as much attention as patients - asking for chairs/water/extra this or that, and generally diverting staff attention.

  Mr Mistoffelees 13:24 25 Jul 09

The cases where things go wrong always get the publicity. The vast majority of the time I am sure NHS staff are very caring and do all they can to make sure everyone in their care is well looked after. That is certainly my experience.

  johndrew 15:02 25 Jul 09

I agree there is a very good argument for this as it does allow for the service and consumption of food to be concentrated upon. However, there is a contrary argument that says that relatives/friends of patients (only one or two) who have eating difficulties may be an asset to their recovery.

Certainly in the case I mentioned above, a friend or relative who became aware of the situation could have assisted and perhaps ` concentrated the minds` of those responsible for the (lack of) care provided.

This is a difficult area as it is known that patients do go hungry in hospitals for many different reasons. Generally it appears to be the more elderly or less able that suffer - or to put it differently those that need the most care. I have a belief that `care` has left the nursing profession as qualifications have entered it. There was a time that nurses didn`t need a `degree` but did require a caring nature and solid work ethic; this does appear, to me, to be missing today.

There is also a similar indication in the `caring nature and solid work ethic` consideration when some doctors/GPs are exposed to strong light, but that is the subject of another discussion.

  lofty29 15:41 25 Jul 09

the variation in hospitals regarding feeding is tremendous, I had to go back in for a minor proceedure following a major operation, I could not eat "normal food" until this was carried out but the staff did their best to ensure that I recieved such nutrition as I could take, a few days later I was taken into my local hospital for a different investigation, 4.30pm- overnight, and in spite of requesting some food was told nothing was available as it had not been preordered, all they were able to give me was one biscuit.

  Forum Editor 17:58 25 Jul 09

that nurses didn`t need a `degree` but did require a caring nature and solid work ethic"

That would be the time when most nurses didn't come from an agency, but worked as part of a resident team, under the strict supervision of a matron. Patients weren't allowed the personal freedoms that they enjoy today, but the standard of nursing care was good.

The world has moved on, or at least that's what they say, and it's undoubtedly true as far as medical care is concerned - we can keep people alive who would have died twenty-five years ago, and we can cure what was incurable in our parents' day. What we can't do however, is alter human nature. If you're subjected to abuse in the course of your working day, and are constantly undervalued by the very people who are your patients you are unlikely to want to place a cool and caring hand on too many fevered brows.

Ill people are cantankerous and difficult to deal with, and the responsibilities placed on hospital nurses are often onerous. The miracle is that anyone ever wants to do the job at all.

  spuds 18:18 25 Jul 09

Most hospitals have a complaints procedure, plus in some cases something like a Patient Liason Forum. If there is a problem, then seek these complaint avenues out.

Regarding nurses, and how they are overworked, is in some cases a total nonsense. Some nurses are very good and some are pure lazy, using anything as an excuse for doing very little. When I had a stay at one of our local hospitals, I found the auxilary nurses were far more 'customer friendly' than some of the graded nurses.

  dagnammit 18:42 25 Jul 09

the NHS have been in the Maternity Units of both the Belfast Hospitals. One were my wife was and the other were my sister was.

We couldn't praise the staff highly enough. They were helpful, dutiful, always had a smile on their face and were enthusiastic about their work. I felt I owed them more than a big thankyou when my wife and baby where discharged.

My sister (a first time mum) and her husband found the staff in the other hospital a nightmare. Found them to be rude, never paying attention and often got responses of "yeah, in a minute" and apparently that minute never came.

My conclusion is it's the Hospital rather than the whole NHS.

  Armchair 18:44 25 Jul 09

whole NHS.


Agreed. I've found that the quality of service varies widely between different NHS treatment centres.

  Bingalau 18:54 25 Jul 09

spuds. I found the complaints procedure and the Patient Liaison Forum to be very ineffective. They are very good at writing letters to placate you but that's about all. The only thing that moved things on when my wife was dying was a letter to my MP. My complaint mainly was about the slowness of communication between departments, especially consultants and specialists who seemed to think that waiting two or three weeks for a letter was good enough. In this day and age of instantaneous communication I thought and still do think, it is a crime.

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