My Hinchingbrooke colorectal hell

YOUR report on the failings of Hinchingbrooke Hospital’s colorectal department (March 7) spurred me to write a summary of my “treatment” therefollowing the diagnosis of my colorectal cancer condition back in early 2004.

I must state that I do this with some degree of reluctance because it is a terrible phase of my life which I wish to forget but - in so saying - I feel I owe it to my dear wife and close family to describe the saga of events that we all had to endure because of the lack of care and proper treatment.

To the best of my knowledge the actual surgery performed on March 26, 2004 to remove the large tumour etc went according to plan under the charge of my consultant Mr Anwar.

When I ultimately arrived back on the ward from theatre recovery my problems began. I was offered and took normal food immediately (a meat pie with potatoes and green beans, which I duly devoured). This, I subsequently discovered, was in error: I should have ‘nil by mouth’ at that stage.

The next morning the group of doctors on their ward round indicated that I should be on solid food and should be ready to go home early the next week. I then started to be violently sick and suffered almost constant hiccupping. My bowel refused to function, and I was kept on liquids only thereafter.

The ward was a busy one, and consequently my care was sadly limited. My bowel continued to ‘rest’ with no food or nourishment. My saline drip fell out and leaked into the bedding but despite my requests and those of my distressed wife during visiting time it took over two hours to re-insert the cannula.

My condition further deteriorated due to the lack of hygiene & poor nutrition. My bowel continued to ‘rest’ (ie not function).

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Eventually - after much haranguing by wife - external nutrition was introduced but by then my weight had plummeted down to nine stones from 14 stones over the three weeks thus far.

The next problem arose when I was diagnosed as having contracted c. difficile, and I was duly moved into isolation - which was in fact an ex-ward in the stages of partial revamping with building materials lying around.

After one night I was moved into am empty six-bed ward, still under isolation conditions, but in the better care of senior nursing staff. Again the hygiene level was poor - my wife spotted dust etc under the bed which managed to elude the cleaning staff’s notice every day. I had also developed a painful bed-sore on my rear.

Further movement plans in the hospital caused me to be relocated into a small side-room, which was very cramped with very little space to get into and out of bed. The room was extremely unclean, and the nursing staff were very busy with the geriatric female patients in the main ward outside my room.

I was discharged on April 25 and could barely walk due to my loss of weight and associated weakness. I truly felt I would die if I could not get back to the safety of my home with my wife’s care. It was eventually two further weeks before I managed to eat solid food and start the seemingly endless path to recovery.

Subsequently I was referred to the Woodlands Centre for a course of chemotherapy under the care of Dr Palmer, and the treatment and care I experienced during the subsequent seven months was second to none.

I know that my wife & family were put through tremendous torture as a consequence of my experiences at Hinchingbrooke.


Rookery Place