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NHS complaint: Yes or no?

(44 Posts)
boat Sat 11-May-19 15:59:39

I spent last Tuesday,or at least a huge chunk of it, at a hospital seven miles from where I live. I was there for 13 hours.

I won't go into details of why because I don't want to give any clues that might identify the hospital or department. Frankly I was only too glad to be there having waited a month for a GP appointment just to be referred.

My problem is not with my treatment. The staff, without exception, were professional, competent and lovely. It's the way the department operated.

A large number of patients had been called in for 7:30 am so we were all nil by mouth from midnight because every one was expected to have at least a minor operation.

It was chaotic! There weren't enough seats for the patients (let alone the relatives/ friends who had come with them because if you have a general anaesthetic you can't go home alone afterwards).

I heard people saying to each other, "This is organised chaos, isn't it?"

At 11:30 I was given half a plastic cup of water and told to sip it slowly. As it turned out I had plenty of time..

By mid afternoon there were only three of us left in the waiting room.

One guy had been rung up the day before and told he was first on the list. He was the main carer for his partner and had had to pay for two days care by a professional. The problem was there was no bed available for him. Eventually at about 4 pm they found one.

The other guy's problem really upset me. He had insulin dependent diabetes. He hadn't had an injection since the evening before and no food since midnight. Eventually they tested his blood sugar level and injected him. They sent him home and promised to treat him the next morning.

I went down to surgery at 4:30.

My problem is, can I complain on other peoples' behalf.

It seems to me that it would make more sense if there were two times for admission: Crack of dawn and late morning with different times for nil by mouth. What do GNers think?

gillybob Sat 11-May-19 16:16:40

I totally agree with you boat my DH has had several similar experiences at one of our local hospitals . Chaos ( without the organised ) . I agree it’s bad enough for those strong enough to cope but for someone insulin dependant it’s truly disgusting .

FlexibleFriend Sat 11-May-19 16:17:39

Whenever I've had day surgery that's the way it works.

gillybob Sat 11-May-19 16:17:54

Meant to add we have never complained as we are always just happy to eventually get treated and get out .

Nonnie Sat 11-May-19 16:22:17

Difficult one. I have found the medical care excellent but could fill this thread with horror stories of the admin. Sometimes it is just not patient focused.

Perhaps you could write a polite note asking why the system is as it is and point out the difficulties you saw. Ask if there is a more patient friendly way. I wouldn't complain at all just ask the question politely from your own experience.

Hope you have recovered from your procedure.

maryeliza54 Sat 11-May-19 16:25:32

I’m not making excuses at all for them but I do wonder if this system is like planes overbooking and relying on no shows for there to be enough seats( literally and as in theatre slots). I wonder if you were unlucky in that tgst day everyone turned up? However, apart from that you raise some really serious concerns esp for the diabetic patient and the one with caring responsibilities. What I would do woukd be to write to PALS with a series of questions such as why is everyone called at the same time, where is there no prioritising of patients who are especially vulnerable or have caring responsibilities. I would also send a copy of the letter to my GP and my local Clinical Commisioning Group. Sometimes staff are desperate for patients to complain as they’ve got nowhere.

maryeliza54 Sat 11-May-19 16:26:07

X posts Nonnie

MiniMoon Sat 11-May-19 16:27:12

Not all hospitals are so chaotic in their approach to day surgery. Last Tuesday my husband had keyhole surgery to repair 2 hernias. He had to be there at 11:30, nil by mouth from midnight. He was 3rd on the list and went in to theatre at 1:30 pm. All went like clockwork. I went back for him at 6:00pm and we were home at 7:30. Our local hospital is very good.

Nonnie Sat 11-May-19 16:32:00

marye yours was more comprehensive than mine.

Nannarose Sat 11-May-19 16:35:38

You can give information to the Care Quality Commission, for their visits - and they do distinguish between care and administration.

maryeliza54 Sat 11-May-19 16:35:40

Same idea though Nonnie asking questions rather than a formal complaint

Cherrytree59 Sat 11-May-19 16:42:07

Hi boat I would write to the hospital and to your MP.

We wrote a letter of complaint to the hospital on behalf of my mother-in-law.

We then forwarded a copy with a covering letter to our MP.

Our MP himself wrote to the hospital on our behalf and raised several issues that concerned us.

We received a letter back from the hospital.
It thanked us for informing them of our concerns and said they would certainly look into them.

As expected no apology.

However we did feel that if it saved one patient from enduring a similar experience to my MiL then it was worth the time and effort.

maryeliza54 Sat 11-May-19 16:55:53

If you had my MP he wouldn’t do anything! I really do advise PALS as a first step though rather than the hospital per se- you can email your letter direct and know for a fact it’s arrived. I hardly ever send letters by post now because even with signed for they can so easily drop into a bottomless pit. Emails give an auditable electronic trail.

Telly Sat 11-May-19 16:59:41

I would contact PALs and tell them of your experience you can suggest some improvements. It does seem that sometimes hospitals are run for the convenience of the staff rather than the patients.

Jane10 Sat 11-May-19 17:09:33

Contact the complaints dept. Tell them about your experience and perfectly sensible suggestions. They have to respond. The clinical governance dept (in my experience) are very interested in finding ways to make 'the patients journey' better and use of time and facilities more efficient. It's worth a try.

Cherrytree59 Sat 11-May-19 17:49:14

maryeliza Our MP visited us at our home.
He listened to our
concerns and agreed with us.

He wrote to the department concerned and to the head of the hospital.

Our original letter was sent to PALS .

janeainsworth Sat 11-May-19 18:44:30

boat I think you should write to PALS (copy the letter to the Trust Chief Exec),
outlining your concerns, rather than complaining.
Keep your letter short and factual.

I think the system of everyone on the list having to arrive at the same time is almost universal & I think it’s so that the anaesthetist can check everyone before they actually start working in the theatre, rather than coming out halfway through to check the next group of patients.
And of course any routine procedure can become non-routine and dealing with it can throw out the timetable.
But it does seem ridiculous that you have to arrive at 8 in the morning, nil by mouth since midnight, and not actually go to surgery till 4.30 pm.

maryeliza54 Sat 11-May-19 19:16:07

Cherry you’ve clearly got an excellent MO - lucky you

annsixty Sat 11-May-19 19:30:41

When it is day surgery at our local hospital, there are two "shifts"
For morning surgery everyone arrives at 7am.
No-one is allowed to stay but the patient. Every one is seen and admitted and after surgery if e everything is ok they can go home about 1/2 oclock.
Meantime the afternoon ones arrive about 1pm and the pro ess is repeated. Both H and I had day surgery under this regime.
For anyone staying in for a few days all have to be there at 7am as things can change, when I had my TKR I was told I would be after lunch but the 1st lady needed an ICU bed which wasn't available and we all got moved up, my op was eventually 11am.

DillytheGardener Mon 13-May-19 08:20:59

I have had this same experience through several minor surgeries I have had with the NHS. It makes recovery so much harder when you feel weak and depleted before even having the surgery from being terribly thirsty and hungry. The last surgery I had I nearly walked out I was so fed up and thirsty.
Do complain, it’s a miserable experience.

harrigran Mon 13-May-19 08:45:14

Our hospital is quite specific, relatives should not sit and wait for day cases, they should leave and return later in the day. If everybody took someone with them it would be chaos.
Last time I had surgery I arrived at 7.30 but did not go to theatre until 4pm. I arrived in a ward at 10pm.

Whingingmom Wed 29-May-19 10:18:19

Incidentally, it is only necessary to be nil by mouth for 4 hours pre general anaesthetic. The stomach is empty of contents after 2-3 hours, so 4 hours is ample to negate the risk of accidental inhalation of stomach contents.

trisher Wed 29-May-19 11:09:47

Please do complain. I did it for my mother when she was in a day ward a few years ago. I complained straight to the hospital (there will be a complaints procedure you can get) I emphasised what had been good about her visit, said what wasn't and made suggestions about how things could improve. They sent me a lovely reply saying the unit was new and they were trying to improve it. My complaint included the lack of proper seating , mum had significant back damage and found sitting for long periods difficult. I think hospital administrators are not the monsters they are sometmes made out to be, they just don't use the service themselves and if you don't tell them they don't know.

Fennel Wed 29-May-19 11:40:23

I'm due to go for day surgery on June 18th - dreading it even more now hmm.

Missfoodlove Wed 29-May-19 13:16:33

I took my 88-year-old mother for day surgery at a local hospital.
She had been nil by mouth from midnight by lunchtime she was sitting not having been seen and was parched. I asked the nurses if she could have a cup of tea she said yes and would organise one when the volunteers came in to make it. They all had cups of tea as they shuffled around in scrubs moving pieces of paper around.
So they had 14 people all of whom were told to attend the hospital at 8:30 am even though they would not be seen for hours.
Why can the NHS not operate a normal appointment system?
My hairdresser does it and I’ve never had to wait