Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Why it matters.

When I say that people are being sent home to die by St Peter’s, Chertsey it may seem hard to believe, it shouldn’t be.

Check out this extract from a BBC report in 2011;

“An elderly man's life was put at risk when a Surrey hospital discharged him when he was medically unfit, a report into elderly care has revealed.

The 79-year-old, who suffered from depression and dementia, was admitted to St Peter's Hospital, Chertsey.

Mr W's case was one of 10 highlighted by the Health Service Ombudsman as part of its review of the elderly.

Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it apologised "unreservedly".

Chief Nurse Suzanne Rankin added: "When people come to hospital they need to feel confident they will be well looked after, which clearly didn't happen on this occasion and is, quite simply, inexcusable."

The problem is that nothing has changed. On the day I was admitted to St. Peter’s, there wasn’t anywhere to put me, while the search for a bed went on. I was operated on at 10 30 at night and it says something about the Doctors and Nurses who helped me that they thought little of doing that. However, during the 7 hour wait, on a drip, I was left for about 5 hours on a trolley in A and E, giving me plenty of time to hear how other patients were being dealt with.

For example, I heard a conversation between a doctor and an elderly man, clearly confused,  who’d arrived with his wife who’d had a serious fall. “There’s nothing wrong”, they were told, “you’ll just have to go home”.  

I also listened to another conversation with a cancer patient who came in with worsening symptoms and nowhere else to go that evening – her family got a similar response.

At that point I was moved on to a corridor and then a ward corridor, until a bed was ready. These two cases, which I have kept vague deliberately to protect their privacy, are similar to that of Mr W, condemned by the health Ombudsman.

These are patients who come in to A and E with multiple medical conditions; stroke, heart, cancer or dementia for example – not just the breaks, sprains and bruises that brought them in – and rarely would these be suitable to be dealt with by a Junior Doctor alone, because those conditions are outside their experience.

There are danger signals here which should have been ringing for people other than just me. Which is why we need at least 10 consultants covering A and E – so that there is always someone to ask, 24/7.


Neil Harris

(This is a don’t stop till you drop production)

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