Friday, 7 January 2011

Do hospitals care?

I tried to write about something light-hearted this week but my head is too full of serious matters. I have to let off steam! Mum has been ill all Christmas and a few days ago she collapsed. The housekeeper at her home called an ambulance and she was taken to the Emergency Medical Unit at the Leicester General Hospital.

Regular readers of this blog will know that my Other Half spent over seven weeks in hospital last year and so I’m no stranger to hospital visiting. He was in the Bone Marrow Unit at the Leicester Royal Infirmary and, although he was seriously ill, the care was first class.

In comparison, Mum is having a third class experience. She is in a bed with no buzzer. Her first night there was spent hooked up to a drip. She was unable to reach her stick and had no way of even telling a nurse when she needed to go to the toilet. The inevitable outcome was degrading and inhumane. Next morning she managed to get to a toilet but was given only a couple of sheets of toilet paper – a small point when typed on this screen but a major one when it’s happening to you!

After she had been in the ward for 24 hours I asked the nurse in charge what was being done for her. The nurse didn’t know who I was talking about. She pulled a sheet of paper from her pocket and, sure enough, there was Mum’s name, halfway down an unbelievably long list. The nurse still didn’t know who Mum was or why she was there and I’m not really surprised. How can any one person be expected to care for so many people?

I overheard someone say that the unit should have been closed down before Christmas but had been kept open because of the high number of emergency admissions. This explains the buzzer and maybe even the toilet paper but it doesn’t help Mum. She still has no buzzer but she does have a large, soft, white toilet roll in a bag with her name written on it!

Why can’t hospital administrators see that there are more important things than target fixing and form filling? Nurses need time and resources. They need to be allowed to care. I only hope those administrators never have to experience the same indignities... or maybe they pay the extra and go to a different hospital.

Mum had an endoscopy yesterday afternoon. She has an ulcer. We still don’t know what they’re planning or what that means but at least they’re doing something.


  1. I won't put my name to this, as I work for the NHS, but if you're having problems with the hospital have you spoken to the PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison) officer in the hospital? They are there to help in these situations. The staff should know how to contact them, or be able to give you a leaflet on the service they provide.

  2. I am a nurse also this is most unfortunte event . & as a nurse this is not the care I would be proud of giving. You are correct more nurses are needed to prevent this from happening. the above contrubutor is correct contact PALS they should be able to help. I do hope they come up with a plan of care soon. ALL THE BEST

  3. Thank you for your comments and advice. I will certainly consider contacting the appropriate people. My mum has now been moved to a medical ward and is receiving better attention but it doesn't change the fact that the first three days were awful.

  4. Oh, your poor mum! I'm so sorry this happened to her. I'm glad you could be there to represent her and I hope they're able to figure out the complete problem soon so she can get well.

    I'll be thinking of you both!


  5. That's absolutely awful, Rosalind! Like you say, it sounds small; but when it happens to you it's degrading, demoralising and dehumanising.

    At the very least the hospital should be informed that this was the standard of care your mother received.

  6. Thanks Amy, we're still waiting for the full diagnosis.

    Hi Jane, yes I will contact someone. It's just so difficult when you're still in the middle of it all.

  7. Rosalind, I came across your blog by seeing one of your comments on another blog. So I clicked your name to come and visit yours as I felt a little sympathy that you lamented that you only had a meagre number of followers and the numbers didn't really change much from day to day!

    So it turns out you are from Leicester and I'm terribly disappointed to hear about your mum's plight at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.

    I too am from Leicester but I've been living in Malaysia for the last four and a half years. I have a passion for writing, photography and I teach English as a private tutor over here.

    Take some time to visit my blog and follow me at:

    I enjoy your writing and I'll be following you from now :)

  8. Hi Rosalind
    What a sad story, and I'm afraid not so uncommon. I have heard similar horror stories amongst others which have nothing but praise for NHS. So different from the time when we put ourselves into their care without question.
    Hope your Mum is now over the worst in all respects.

  9. To answer the question in your title, I think hospitals do care, and I think the individual doctors and nurses care as well -- but I think they're put in incredibly difficult situation and are usually under-resourced. You should definitely speak to the appropriate department within the hospital. If you don't, somebody else might end up in the same situation.

  10. Hi Duncan and thank you for the follow. I will certainly pop by your blog and follow you even if I do now feel slightly embarrassed at sounding so pathetic. What a coincidence that you used to live in Leicester. I bet you wouldn't recognise the place if you've been away for anything up to ten years. See you soon at your blog!

  11. Hi Ali, I must say Mum's getting much better care now she's on the medical ward but she's still very poorly.

    Hi Amie, yes I agree that individuals in the NHS do care (most of them anyway) and I'm so sorry that they're having to work such long hours and so under-resourced.

  12. Thanks for the follow on my blog. Life sometimes throws up some wonderful coincidences doesn't it?!


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