HINCHINGBROOKE Hospital is to investigate claims that elderly patients are not receiving adequate care because of staff shortages. In the past week The Hunts Post has received two independent complaints claiming a lack of care on Magnolia Ward. The Huntin
HINCHINGBROOKE Hospital is to investigate claims that elderly patients are not receiving adequate care because of staff shortages.
In the past week The Hunts Post has received two independent complaints claiming a lack of care on Magnolia Ward.
The Huntingdon hospital has insisted there is no current staff shortage and is looking into the treatment provided to elderly patients on the ward.
One complaint was from the family of a 75-year-old man currently in hospital suffering from pneumonia.
His daughter, who does not wish to be named, said: "In my honest opinion I think that elderly patients are suffering because there are simply not enough staff around.
"I feel sorry for anyone on that ward who does not have a caring family who are prepared to take on some of the day-to-day care because they will be left or ignored.
"Emergency buzzers go off constantly and are just being ignored. On one particular night, my father rang from his mobile phone to say he needed to go to the toilet, but couldn't get out of bed.
"To be fair to the staff, he hadn't rung the emergency buzzer because he couldn't reach it, but he was very distressed and upset.
"We rang the hospital and asked a nurse to check on him and she said she didn't have time.
"We insisted that she go and check because we were not sure whether he had slipped out of bed and as he was in a side ward we knew no one could see him."
The nurse did check, but refused to ring the family back to let them know he was ok. Eventually another of the man's daughters drove to the hospital and found her dad in a wet bed.
"My sister changed the bed and sorted my dad out, but what would have happened if she hadn't been there? How long would he have stayed like that?
"We hardly saw any staff and those who were around were run off their feet."
She added: "On another day we came across an elderly lady who was trying to leave the ward and no one had noticed even though she had walked past the nurses' station. It took us 10 minutes to find someone to come and get her."
A second patient, Bernadette Woods, 40, of High Street Somersham, also complained about lack of care for elderly patients when she was admitted to the ward after a heart attack in February.
"The staff didn't look after us very well," she said. "There was a woman in her 80s opposite me. The nurses had put her in the chair next to her bed and left her there. She was trying to get herself back into bed and was obviously struggling, she was going to fall. I asked the man who was giving me my medication if he could spare her a minute and help her but he said 'It's not my job.'
Mrs Woods said she ended up helping the women herself - despite being told she wasn't supposed to be walking around.
Mrs Woods also claimed that call buzzers were also regularly ignored and when a member of staff finally arrived, the patients' requests (to be taken to the lavatory or to get back into their beds) weren't carried out.
"When I told the lady in the bed next to me that I was being transferred to Papworth Hospital she cried. She said 'Who's going to look after me now?" she said.
"A spokesperson for Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust said: "Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust takes all complaints extremely seriously. The trust asks that the complainants contact us directly so that full investigations can be launched into these cases. However, we cannot publicly comment on individual cases."
She added: "The trust did have some issues with nurse recruitment, in common with many other trusts locally and nationally, which were taken very seriously and resulted in the recent recruitment of 25 nurses from Spain. "Staffing levels have improved recently, but we continue to actively recruit to nurse vacancies across the trust."
There was no shortage of staff in February and there is none now. We have a full complement of staff. We will investigate these complaints.