I WAS a patient in the short-stay ward at Hinchingbrooke Hospital for five days last week and was quite simply disgusted at the way patients were being treated. Most patients were very elderly – much older than I.

A lady was left on a bedpan all night. When she came to be discharged, the nurse asked what she thought of her stay. When she mentioned the bedpan incident, I heard the nurse say that she was not allowed to complain about it.

An elderly lady fell off her chair onto the floor. There was no nurse on the ward, so I went outside where there were five nurses and a doctor. They took no notice of me, so I went back into the ward to help, and it took about five minutes for a nurse to arrive.

There was an occasion when I rang my bell because I wanted some water. It took about 25 minutes for a nurse to arrive.

There was a deranged woman in the ward, who was wandering around and causing near-chaos by messing about with equipment. There was no nurse responding, so I had no alternative but to let the woman out of the door to avoid any more upsetting disturbance to the other patients.

Only poor-quality sandwiches were available on the first day. When I complained, I was told that this was all the hospital provided on 'short-stay' wards. However, I was there for five days undergoing tests. One of the well-publicised policies of the new management company was that the hospital would provide good freshly-prepared, nourishing meals.

What has gone wrong? There were adequate staff on duty, but they simply do not seems to care. I understand the consultants wished to keep the hospital open, and so the Government gave them the chance to improve patient care with the help of a private company.

I feel very sorry indeed for the elderly patients who cannot speak up for themselves and have to rely on nurses and doctors who just do not seem to take an interest.

If a nurse had actually been sitting at her desk on each ward and not outside in a separate room, shut off from patients, perhaps she could do what she is trained and paid to do - actually provide nursing care. Otherwise, why are nurses employed by us?

I hope the hospital consultants and company now in charge can give a proper answer and say what they are actually going to do to improve the situation on the wards.

BRIDGETTE CRANE

Woolley Close

Brampton

Editor's note: The hospital responded: "Hinchingbrooke apologises unreservedly for not meeting the expectations of a patient in our short-stay unit.

"In response to the complaint made, the medical director, lead nurse, ward manager and staff from the unit met to discuss the concerns the patient raised. They decided on changes which were immediately put in place in the unit.

"Key changes include increasing the number of desks for nurses to be based, which allows them to be closer to their patients, and providing patients with more information about the range of meals offered in the unit."