Monday, 5 May 2014

Fit for Purpose ?

Hospital Revisited – with regret

After spending a week and a day at Llandough hospital, I am left uncured and very unhappy with my prognosis.

From the moment I arrived, I entered the mincemeat grinder that has become our once-loved National Health Service.  I had barely been placed on a cot, when individual staff were telling me how bad the NHS in Wales has become. The first contact I had started whispering to me how bad the conditions had become for the staff and that no on dared say a word of complaint because they knew they would lose their job immediately.  After that, I had a succession of nurses and ancillary staff moaning to me about a stopped pay rise, constantly changing conditions of working and not a soul in a senior position asking for their opinion.  All this, whilst worrying that I didn’t know if I would leave hospital alive.  One staff member said, “If you want to die, come into hospital at night or try to come in at the weekend”.           [ Fact – only THREE doctors are available at night, to attend thousands on inpatients ]

In all my years of experience as a senior manager, I have never encountered such endemic low morale, that is communicated to the sick patients, albeit not consciously.  The nurses worked like automatons, some giving the best care and attention to detail that could be reasonably expected under the circumstances.  It was a very depressing experience, especially being moved to another room because the bed manager was completely unable to find sufficient beds for all those who needed inpatient care.

When I left the hospital, I felt no better, with no understanding of heart failure or the fact that it had a habit of preventing normal breathing.  No after care was offered and when I was being driven along one of the longest roads I have ever seen, I could see what the overall problem was – no one knew how to run a hospital properly.  This was obvious from glancing at the new facade of modernity being put in place as a result of incompetent planning and poor estate management :  I mean, - What is the point of building a patient’s car park over a half a mile away from the entrance and expecting patients and their relatives to  trek such a long way to reach even the front entrance ?  And, what is the point in having a facade in front of a wartime hospital that is a disgrace inside for anyone to travel through, let alone work in every day ?  The only boast Llandough can make is that it has the longest hospital corridors in the world, making access to wards physically impossible without the help of a willing Sherpa guide.

Step away from the corridor ( if you’ve any energy left ) and you encounter the same dismal treatment and x-ray rooms that haven’t seen a decent coat of paint since the ark docked !  As I was taken into the bowels of the hospital for tests - where people are expected to work in the most dreary and dismal offices - I felt as though the Health Board, the government and NHS Wales had completely got their priorities wrong, and covered up each mistake with another, instead of ensuring adequate and safe conditions for their staff to work in and for the poor patients to try feeling a sense of wellbeing that would aid their recovery.

The nursing staff was meticulous in their attention to hygiene, yet the wards were only cleaned in a superficial manner with absolutely no attention to detail.  Doctors rounds and visits were poorly organised with the patients being the last to know when their doctor did his ( or her ) ward ‘rounds’. The real saving grace of Llandough was in the regularity of the tea trolley and the consistency of food standards, albeit that choices and portions seem to have been reduced considerably.

Generally speaking, as a chronically ill patient near the end of life, I felt that the hospital didn't treat me as an individual and that playing ‘ducks and drakes’ with beds was the no. 1 priority.  As I said to the Bed Manager “I didn't create the disgraceful shortage of beds, you and your masters did by deliberately closing over 1000 beds, along with dozens of local hospitals and health care facilities”.  The Health Service in Wales is in terminal crisis, with more patients dying every day for the lack of adequate care.  The Minister ignores the Royal College of Surgeons' report that declared the University hospital as ‘dangerous’ and refuses to do anything to ameliorate the lengthening waiting times and the numbers of deaths of patients who were waiting for surgery.

Personally, I blame Devolution, because devolving health care in Wales into the hands of a bunch of unqualified, incompetent bunch of bureaucrats ( talking bureauCRAP ) was a mistake of disastrous proportions.  There is none of the promised ‘Openness and Transparency’ that we were promised because this would only expose the incompetence of the self-serving politicians who have caused this national crisis. And let’s be honest – saving their fat salaries is far more important than saving the lives of a few thousand patients that will die as a direct result of their total inability to manage a car park attendant’s job !   R.W.      

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