The Mid-Staffs Scandal has been front page news over the past few days. Terrible standards of care exassabayed by weak management have led to the outcome we all knew would come but hoped would not.
Those who have followed DJ since its early days will know that it was born out of my own hospital experiences. There was a long running series called 'blogging from a hospital bed' that just as it seemed to be coming to a close I found myself tapping away from my local hospital.
So whoever I hear the stories of bad care, like most of us, I compare it to my own experiences.
For 95% of my time at the hospital I received exceptional care. The nurses were on the move constantly but always had time to have a chat with me. In many ways they became my extended family and, although I don't miss hospital, I miss some of the friends I made there. Being on a ward where you feel safe is half the battle, the other half is feeling cared for.
Naturally there were individuals that made me feel unsafe, scared, and in the way. I want to share with two of these stories with you. I do so for a reason that will hopefully become clear.
The first incident happened in the middle of the night on a general surgery ward in Leicester. Although I can't remember, I'd invariably been in theatre within the prior 72 hours and was in a lot of pain. I pressed the buzzer and got no response after a while so got up to find a nurse. I found two, chatting over a coffee at the nurses station. I asked if I could have any pain release, to which I was told "you don't look in pain".
The second incident did take place after an operation. I can be sure of that because it took place in the recovery room just after I had woken up. I was a bit groggy, so my memory isn't crystal clear. What I do remember is how I felt. I'd had a new type of anaesthetic and woke up in a bit of a panic. I was on my own so freaked out properly. One of the recovery nurses stomped over told me to stop being stupid and grabbed my wrist, which was over the side of the bed, and threw my arm onto my chest. All I can remember is wanting to get away as quickly as possible. I now am terrified that I will make up to her after future operations, something I have no control of as I don't even know who she was.
The first incident was taken very seriously at first. More due to the fact that I believe they were on the hunt for evidence with a view to sacking her anyway. There was a merger of wards and I was told that the complaint would be handed over to the new manager. 2 years later I've heard nothing, and no one has any idea what I'm talking about when I ask.
I didn't even know who to report the second incident to.There were no witnesses, and I had just woken up from surgery. I'm not in a strong position to say anything, evn if I knew who was responsible. When I made enquires, I got brick walls. The scary thing about the second incident is that a patient after surgery is in no position to protect themselves, or even say something when things go wrong. Memories after anaesthetic can be patchy, and you're often only looked after by one nurse.
The reason I go into detail is to show how a hospital that I trusted implicitly can turn from a safe haven into a living nightmare at the hands of a very small number of staff. Leicester General was a second home for a long time, and the two incidents I mention above are two bad things out of a million good. But when the poor behaviour of a few staff isn't challenged, don't we run the risk of normalisation? Which is surely the first step towards a Mid Staffs situation.